A Musical Instrument

A Musical Instrument Essay Questions

  1. 1

    How does Pan's act of creating the flute affect nature?

    When Pan first arrives at the river, he creates a scene of chaos and disruption. He disturbs the resting dragonfly and crushes the lilies that were thriving there. The act of cutting and notching the reed is perhaps the most destructive act toward nature in the whole poem. Pan's reckless behavior clearly makes nature suffer. However, once his flute is created and he begins to play lovely music, many of the natural elements around him begin to revive. One might say that the destruction was worth it, as it later brought joy and life back to nature. However, the true gods lament the loss of nature at the poem's conclusion, leaving the reader to decide whether beauty should be pursued at any cost.

  2. 2

    How is the speaker's tone contradictory throughout the poem?

    The speaker does not have a clear stance on Pan's actions. In the very first line, the speaker declares him "a great god" and repeats this epithet throughout the poem. One might say that the speaker always recognizes Pan's godly status and maintains a reverent tone. However, the speaker quickly refers to his destructive behavior before the first stanza's conclusion. In addition, the speaker shares personal opinions about Pan's actions twice in parentheses, first lamenting the mutilated reed and then reminding the reader that Pan continues to laugh throughout his flute making process. Therefore, while the speaker certainly acknowledges Pan's godly status, there is an ironic, questioning tone behind the use of the word "great," as the speaker seems ambivalent about Pan's actions.