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Monday, September 28, 2009
Elementary School Classroom
‘Far from gusty….other than this’
Spender begins his poem by describing the children in the class I the first stanza. He begins by creating a contrast between the gusty, energetic waves of the ocean and the children in the classroom whom he describes as ‘rootless weeds’. There is a tall girl with her head weighed down as if she was eternally burdened and tired. There is a boy so miserably thin that he is described as ‘paper seeming’. This boy while being paper thin has rat like bulging eyes. This is a sign of malnourishment. This is also indicative of the social milieu from to which these children belong. Another boy in the classroom suffers from a disease where his growth has been stunted and his bones are twisted.This disease has been passed on to him by his father. Hence for this child, his lesson is not the one taught in class but his inheritance of his father’s disease. But there is also a sweet looking boy among all such gloomy faces who is dreaming about a squirrel playing games in a room other than this classroom.
As is evident the children belong to the poor classes of society. The reference to them as ‘rootless weeds’ might be indicative of the fact that society treats them as worthless population which needs to be eradicated. Much in the same way as weeds are eradicated from fields.
‘On sour cream walls...and stars of words’
In this stanza Spender describes the class. On sour cream walls donations made to the class are recorded.On one wall Shakespeare’s head is drawn; there is also a drawing depicting a Dome, a sign of prosperous society, a far cry from the world of these children.There is scenery of Tyrolese valley. Lastly on one wall there is a map which shows the people the world they inhabit. Spender says that all these depictions on the wall are not the real world of the children. Their world is the one which they see from their classroom windows-a world of fog; narrow, crammed, polluted streets. The usage of ‘fog’ is also depictive of the life of these children. It signifies the blur that their future is in.
‘Surely, Shakespeare....as doom’
Spender calls Shakespeare wicked and the maps a bad example since they create a false world for the children. This also includes the suns and the ships. This virtual world results in the children having a temptation to steal since they see no way to achieve this ‘world’ of the walls. Their world is the world of cramped, dingy holes. Their lives move from to fog to endless night, with no hope in sight. They are so thin that their bones show through their skin. When they wear spectacles it seems bottle bits are places on stones.
‘Unless, governor...is the sun’
This situation will continue until the officials do something about it. Until the map becomes the real world of the children they will continue to lead a miserable life. The world which seizes them, which puts a shackle on them should be broken and shattered. The green fields of the walls should be their world. Their future should be enlightened in place of the present fog which prevails over it because only they create history whose present is illuminated.