Thursday, 12 January 2017

"My Parents Kept Me From Children Who Were Rough" is a poem written by Stephen Spender; an English poet born 28-02-1909 in Kensington but died at the age of 86 year old on 16-07-1995.

Stephen Spender was a huge fan of literature and art. He was very friendly and his friendship aligned with the proverb that says "Birds of the same feathers fly together".

Wikipedia says and I quote: "Spender was acquainted with fellow Auden Group members Louis MacNeice, Edward Upward and Cecil Day-Lewis. He was friendly with David Jones and later came to know W. B. Yeats, Allen Ginsberg, Ted Hughes, Joseph Brodsky, Isaiah Berlin, Mary McCarthy, Roy Campbell, Raymond Chandler, Dylan Thomas, Jean-Paul Sartre, F. T. Prince and T. S. Eliot, as well as members of the Bloomsbury Group, in particular Virginia Woolf."

"My Parents Kept Me From Children Who Were Rough" talks about the poet's childhood experience with bullies. The twelve line poem which is divided into three stanzas of equal lines per stanza, explained how the poet was bullies by a group of superior but inferior. It further explained that bitter words and muscular strength are their bullying tools. It concluded the poem with one of the everlasting effects on a bully victim; which is lack of forgiveness.

According to stanza one, his parents kept him from those bully boys because the harshly mismanaged the spoken words, they were poor wearing "rags", and "They ran the street" "And climbed cliffs and stripped by country streams".

Second stanza, the poet feared the bullies because of their strength and many times they'd beaten him.

In stanza three, they really tormented him; haunted him like by appearing when he least expected. They even threw mud at him.

The poem is categorized under youthful recollection and it has a well planned structure, simple dictions, and physical human setting with the use of "street" "climbed cliffs" "country streams" "on the road" "behind hedges" "mud" etc.

The central theme in the poem is bullying but other themes of note are lack of forgiveness, fear, superiority, inferiority and poverty.
The poet was
afraid of those boys because they were bullies meanwhile inferiority and poverty led the boys to bully the poet because they saw him as superior in status.

Let's speak of the figurative in the poem. Simile surfaced in the poem more than twice as a result of Spender's love for comparison. In line 2, he compared the word usage of the boys to thrown stones "Who threw words like stones". In line 5, he compared the boys strength to tigers and their muscles to iron "I feared more than tigers their muscles like iron". In line 10, he compared their aggressive behavior to that of a barking dog "Like dogs to bark at my world".

"Their jerking hands and their knees tight on my arms" as seen in line 6 is an indirect description of how the bullies beat him.

"Like dogs to bark at my world" as seen in line 10 contains more than simile. The line is an offspring of enjambment from the preceding line. And "my world" is a metonymy for "my presence".


Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the Leo with wings flying)


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