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My Parents - Literature Notes
Please note that the information given on this poem is not meant to replace any material given in the classroom setting. It is a very BASIC giude to enable a literal understanding of the poem. Metaphorical interpretations should be sought in the classroom.
The physical structure of this poem has been altered from the original layout in the text.
4.My parents kept me from children who were rough
1.Who threw words like stones and who wore torn clothes.
Their thighs showed through rags. They ran in the street
2.And climbed cliffs and stripped by the country streams.
1.I feared more than tigers their muscles like iron
Their jerking hands and their knees tight on my arms.
3.I feared the salt course pointing of those boys
Who copied my lisp behind me on the road.
They were lithe, 1.they sprang out behind hedges
Like dogs to bark out at my world. They threw mud
While I looked the other way, 5.pretending to smile.
6.I longed to forgive them, but they never smiled.
Spender, S. 'My Parents' in A World of Poetry. Edited by Mark McWatt and Hazel Simmonds McDonald. Pearson Education Ltd, 2005.
This is the OPINION of one individual, which might not coincide with the views of others.
The persona speaks about how his parents kept him away from children who were rough. These children were very unkept and seemingly (www.bulbsoup.com) wild and the persona feared them because they bullied him. The persona wants to forgive them, but they never tried to be friendly.
- Stanza 1, line 2: Stones are very hard and unyielding, and they can literally cause injury when thrown. When words are compared to stone, it is highlighting the hurtful nature of those words because they cause emotional injury and scarring.
- Stanza 2, line 5: Iron is also unyielding and represents strength. Therefore, when the persona compares the boys muscles to iron, it implies that the boys are very strong. It also implies that the persona might have experienced the strength of those muscles. This is the case because (www.bulbsoup.com) he states that he fears the boys' muscles even more than tigers. Tigers are ferocious animals who live in the wild, and are feared by both other animals and humans alike. If the persona fears the boys' muscles even more than ferocious tigers, then he must have had a traumatic encounter with the boys.
- Stanza 3, lines 9-10: A dog's bark is a very loud and persistent thing. It also seems quite frightening as well, even if the dog is harmless. Therefore, implication is that the persona would be waylaid and verbally abused at consistent intervals.
- The lyrical flow that this alliteration facilitates imparts the freedom that these boys experience.
- The boys' pointing was salt course. This means that their pointing hurt the persona because salt is abrasive. This highlights the effect of the bullying that the persona had to endure.
IMPORTANT WORDS/ PHRASES
4.'My parents kept me from children who were rough'
This appears, at first, to be a disembodied phrase. This is because the content that follows speaks to the persona's fear of the boys. This first statement could be interpreted as a simple statement of fact. The persona's parents kept him from children who were rough, based on the treatment that he gets at their hands.
5. 'pretending to smile'
The persona pretends to smile in order to bear the bullying that he is enduring. It can be considered to be a sign of strength because he does not appear to give in to his fear by hiding it in a smile.
6. 'I longed to forgive them, but they never smiled'
This reveals that the persona has a good heart. He does not react in a bitter (www.bulbsoup.com) way to the treatment that he receives, but longs to forgive the boys. Unfortunately, the boys are not repentant because they never give the persona an opening, or an opportunity, to forgive them.
The mood of the poem is sad.
The tone of the poem is reflective.
Loss of innocence.
Contributor: Leisa Samuels-Thomas