The poet deals with the themes of social injustice and class inequalities in this unique poem. The poem is written in free verse and paints a bleak picture of a school in a slum.
Far far from gusty waves these children’s faces.
Like rootless weeds, the hair torn round their pallor:
The tall girl with her weighed-down head. The paper-
seeming boy, with rat’s eyes. The stunted, unlucky heir
Of twisted bones, reciting a father’s gnarled disease,
His lesson, from his desk. At back of the dim class
One unnoted, sweet and young. His eyes live in a dream
Of squirrel’s game, in tree room, other than this.
In the first stanza, he paints a grim picture of the miserable condition of the children in the slum. There is no energy or vigor on the faces of these children. With their pale faces and unkempt hair, they look like uprooted weeds. Their lifeless faces show that they are uncared for. The poet goes on to describe a few children individually to show how miserable their condition is. Each child seems to be weak, hungry and malnourished. There is a tall girl in the class who sits with her head low because she is mentally and physically exhausted carrying the burden of poverty. The poet mentions ‘the paper seeming’ boy who is extremely thin with hungry eyes like a rat. There is another boy awho suffers from bone deformities, a disease that he inherited from his father. When he stands to recite his lesson he presents his father’s disease of twisted bones. There is one sweet boy sitting at the back of the class who is distracted from his lessons and dreams of squirrel’s games in a tree room outside the class. Though he is physically present he is mentally absent from the room. Thus in the first stanza, the poet paints a sad picture of poverty, starvation, and deprivation in the life of the people living in the slums.
On sour cream walls, donations. Shakespeare’s head,
Cloudless at dawn, civilized dome riding all cities.
Belled, flowery, Tyrolese valley. Open-handed map
Awarding the world its world. And yet, for these
Children, these windows, not this map, their world,
Where all their future’s painted with a fog,
A narrow street sealed in with a lead sky
Far far from rivers, capes, and stars of words.
In the next stanza, the poet shifts his attention from the children to the condition of the classroom. On the walls of the classroom, a number of donated pictures are seen to be hanging. These have been donated by rich and well-off people. Among these pictures are Shakespeare’s portrait, pictures of famous monuments, beautiful valleys of Tyrol in Austria. There is also a map of the world which is made and reshaped by people. This map tells the children that it is their world. The map stands for progress and prosperity; it is the world of the rich. But, for these children, this map is not their world. Their world is the world that is visible through the classroom window. What they witness outside these windows is the only world that they have ever seen. Here, they see a future that is ‘painted with a fog,’ which symbolizes uncertainty. All they see outside is a filthy street, covered with a sky full of smoke, which seems heavy like lead sealing their future and hurling them into darkness. This place is far from anything beautiful like rivers, capes and good books.
Surely, Shakespeare is wicked, the map a bad example.
With ships and sun and love tempting them to steal —
For lives that slyly turn in their cramped holes
From fog to endless night? On their slag heap, these children
Wear skins peeped through by bones and spectacles of steel
With mended glass, like bottle bits on stones.
All of their time and space are foggy slums.
So blot their maps with slums as big as doom.
All the hangings on the walls are mere temptations for these children, well beyond their reach. These pictures tempt them to make an escape from their miserable life into the beautiful life represented through the pictures. It tempts them to steal in order to escape from the grey world of the slums. There Shakespeare is said to be wicked and the map a bad example. Life in their cramped houses gradually changes from being uncertain to complete hopelessness. These children living amidst heaps of garbage have bodies with bones peeping through layers of skin. This suggests that even their basic needs like food are not met. Amenities provided to them like their spectacles are heavy and of cheap quality which adds to their woe. They spend their entire life(time) in the foggy slum (space) which is the only world they know. These slums are nothing less than a living hell and hence a blot in the world of the rich. It implies that our so-called civilized world that the map represents is far from perfect.
Unless, governor, inspector, visitor,
This map becomes their window and these windows
That shut upon their lives like catacombs,
Break O break open till they break the town
And show the children to green fields, and make their world
Run azure on gold sands, and let their tongues
Run naked into books the white and green leaves open
History theirs whose language is the sun.
Spender brings the poem to an end on a positive note. He shows a ray of hope for improving the condition of these slum children and also shows the way for it. According to him, the people in power (like Governor, inspector, and influential visitors) should take initiative to bring about the required changes. The progressive world should become the world of the slum children as well. And their windows which act as a barrier between them and development should be broken. The slum life should be eradicated and the slum children should be brought out of their narrow lanes into the green fields and golden sands; because surroundings play an important role in shaping one’s personality. They should be given the freedom to acquire knowledge so that they are able to read freely and express themselves freely. The language of the well-read and the well-educated gains the strength of the sun and they gain the power to create history.
Figures of speech in the poem
Figure of speech
Like rootless weeds
The paper-seeming boy
civilized dome riding all cities
their future’s painted with a fog
A narrow street sealed in with a lead sky
On their slag heap
lives that slyly turn in their cramped holes
like bottle bits on stones
these windows that shut upon their lives like catacombs
History is theirs whose language is the sun
the verb “reciting” in this line applies to the “gnarled disease” and “his lesson”.
“His eyes live in a dream” in which the poet refers to the eyes of the boy in place of the boy.
Civilized dome riding all cities
awarding the world its world
street sealed, far far from
Polysyndeton / climax
ships and sun and love
from fog to endless night?
the donations hung in the sour walls do not match the actual surroundings
You don’t need speakers… To show your love for God, For God is silence, silence God. You can connect with the Almighty, Through your thoughts, Simply proffering your love to God, Is more than enough. You can do it inside your mind, Offering your unconditional love, Day in day out; Like the one you have, For your parents or your child. You don’t need mikes… To show your devotion. For it portrays your devoutness To your equals, and not the Lord. For God is silent, our silent God.
I looked everywhere For the time that I lost. And even thought of registering, A report in lost and found. There I found Innumerable people; who lost theirs. Those priceless hours, In mourning for the time Which like departed souls Shall never return. Enlightened… I smiled at the present moment, and greeted it like a new born Cherishing it, before it perished Like those listless moments I lost before.
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, is the full title.
So much has been written about this novel over the years; so much has been analysed about Mary Shelley’s personal life and social circle she moved in and the psychological undercurrents of the novel, and its place in literary history and how it might be the first real science fiction novel and its engagement with both the romantic, gothic style and with ideas of the Enlightenment and scientific progress… that it is all a bit overwhelming. I will not try to be a perfect spokesperson for this novel and not present some academic synthesis of all this information. I have a life! I’ll just note some things that stood out to me.
The story of Frankenstein is all about knowledge and wisdom. What are these things, and are they safe pursuits? The story of the “monster” is set within the framework…
Whilst there is no substitute for hiring a professional editor, self-editing is an important skill for any writer to hone. For one thing, the more passes a manuscript gets, the fewer errors will remain in the final product. If you are using an editor, be sure to self-edit thoroughly first so they can focus on […]
There are two ways of reporting the words spoken by an individual:
Directly – Ron said, “I will win the match.”
Indirectly– Ron said that he would win the match.
Direct speech – The actual words of the speaker is used within double inverted commas. (“ “)
Indirect Speech – When the words of a speaker are reported in our own words.
Reporting verb – In the direct speech, those words which appear outside the double inverted commas are called reporting verb. The reporting verb introduces the words of the speaker. This verb indicates who speaks to whom, how and when.
Reported speech : Those words which are used within inverted commas in the direct speech is called reported speech.
Direct speech example:
The teacher said, “The earth revolves around the sun.”