A Tragic Story

A Tragic Story – William Makepeace Thackeray

Read the poem silently. Based on your reading discuss in class whether the incidents are humorous or tragical.

There lived a sage in days of yore,
And he a handsome pigtail wore;
But wondered much and sorrowed more,
Because it hung behind him.

He mused upon this curious case,
And swore he'd change the pigtail's place,
And have it hanging at his face,
Not dangling there behind him.

Says he, "The mystery I've found –
Says he, "The mystery I've found!
I'll turn me round," he turned him round;
But still it hung behind him.

Then round and round, and out and in,
All day the puzzled sage did spin;
In vain–it mattered not a pin –
The pigtail hung behind him.

And right and left and round about,
And up and down and in and out
He turned; but still the pigtail stout
Hung steadily behind him.

And though his efforts never slack,
And though he twist and twirl, and tack,
Alas! Still faithful to his back,
The pigtail hangs behind him.

It Means:

yore – (long ago)
mused – (thought over)
dangling – தொங்கும்
vain – வீணான
stout – தடித்த
slack – தளர்ந்த
Alas – ஐயோ


sage – wise man
yore – long ago
pigtail – a plaited lock of hair worn singly at the back
mused – thought over
curious – eager to learn more
mystery – puzzle
stout – thick in structure

About the Poet

William Makepeace Thackeray was one of the great novelists of the English Victorian Age. His “Vanity Fair” is one of the finest and best-known novels in English literature. Thackeray wrote in a colorful, lively style, with a simple vocabulary and clearly- structured sentences. These qualities, combined with his honest view of life, give him an important place in the history of realistic literature.

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