An Elementary School Classroom
1 / 16
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
a. Which children are referred to here? What is peculiar about their faces?
b. What does the expression ‘Far far from gusty waves’ signify?
c. Explain: ‘Like rootless weeds.’
d. How is the tall girl affected by poverty?
e. What is the comparison drawn with rat’s eyes?
2 / 16
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.
a. Who is being referred to in these lines why is he stunted?
b. Why is ‘he’ referred to as ‘unlucky heir’?
c. Explain: ‘citing a father’s gnarled disease.”
d. Who sits at the back of the class, unnoticed? How is he different?
e. Explain: “his eyes live in a dream.”
f. What is the comparison drawn with ‘squirrel’s game’?
3 / 16
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
a. Explain: ‘On sour cream walls, donations.’
b. What does ‘Shakespeare’s head’ suggest?
c. Why has the poet used images of ‘cloudless dawn’ and ‘civilized dome’?
d. Explain: ‘Belled, flowery, Tyrolese valley.’
e. What does the reference to the ‘map’ imply?
4 / 16
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.
a. What comprises the world for these children?
b. What future do these children have in store for themselves?
c. Where do these children spend their lives?
d. What does ‘lead sky’ symbolize?
e. What bounties are these children deprived of?
5 / 16
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
a. Why is Shakespeare referred to as ‘wicked’?
b. How is ‘map’ a bad example?
c. What do ‘ships’, ‘sun’ and ‘love’ symbolize?
d. Where do their lives ‘slyly turn’?
e. Explain: ‘From fog to endless night.’
6 / 16
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 slum.
So blot their maps with slums as big as doom.
a. What does ‘slag heap’ refer to?
b. Explain: ‘skins peeped through by bones.’
c. What is the comparison drawn with ‘bottle bits on stones’?
d. What comprises the world for these children?
e. Why does the poet see slums ‘as big as doom’?
7 / 16
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
a. What is the ambience of an elementary school in a slum?
b. What does the reference to the ‘governor, inspector and visitor’ imply?
c. How does the ‘map’ become their ‘window’?
d. What does the word ‘windows’ symbolize?
e. Explain: ‘shut upon their lives like catacombs.’
8 / 16
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.
a. What hope does the poet see in these lines?
b. What kind of a world does the poet visualize for these children?
c. What does ‘green fields’ and ‘gold sands’ symbolize?
d. Explain: ‘let their tongues run naked into books.’
e. What does the word ‘sun’ in the last line suggest?
9 / 16
Why does Stephen Spender use the images of the despair and disease in the first stanza in the poem and with what effect?
10 / 16
Inspite of despair and disease the condition of the slum children, they are not devoid of hope. Give an example of their hope and dream.
11 / 16
How does the poet picture the condition of the slum children?
12 / 16
What is the theme of the poem? How it has been presented?
13 / 16
Which images of the slums in the third stanza present the picture of social disparity, injustice and class inequalities?
14 / 16
"So blot their maps with slum as big as room" says Stephen Spender. What does the poet want to convey?
15 / 16
How can powerful persons-viz governor, inspector, visitor contribute to improve the lot of slum children?
16 / 16
Which world these children do belong to? Which world is inaccessible to them?
An Elementary School Classroom
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