Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 7

My Parents – Stephen Spender

My parents kept me from children who were rough


Who threw words like stones and wore torn clothes
Their thighs shown through rags. They ran in the street
And climbed cliffs and stripped by the country streams.

I feared more than tigers their muscles like iron


Their jerking hands and their knees tight on my arms
I feared the salt coarse pointing of those boys
Who copied my lisp behind me on the road.

They were lithe, they sprang out behind hedges


Like dogs to bark at my world. They threw mud
While I looked the other way, pretending to smile
I longed to forgive them but they never smiled.

ANALYSIS

Spender could be using this poem either as a criticism or praise for his parents for protecting
him against children in his neighbourhood who were over-rambunctious and would make fun
of him or bully him since he suffered from some disability as a child, having had a
problematic foot and a speech impediment. The poem, does however, have universal
application and relevance.

The poem is divided into three stanzas and does not have a regular rhyme structure,
probably used by the poet to emphasise the irregular and harsh treatment he had been a
victim of through the treatment meted out to him by other children. The language is simple
and straightforward, which makes the content easily understandable. Also, it enables the
speaker to address a younger audience in language which is understood and to which
such an audience can relate to, thus creating an awareness of the type of harmful abuse
they might knowingly, or unknowingly, dispense to their targets or victims.

It is clear that the speaker distances himself from these 'rough' children - the constant use of
'they' and 'their' makes it clear that the speaker does not share a close relationship with or
have any attachment to, these children.

The speaker resents these other children for mocking him: 'who threw words like stones'
- their words are hurtful. However, it is clear that these children were either not as
economically well-cared for or that they were careless since they 'wore torn clothes'
and 'their thighs showed through rags'. It is as if the speaker, in defence, adopts a disdainful
and sneering attitude towards the children who are hurting him.

They ran in the street and climbed cliffs and stripped by country streams' - things the
speaker was obviously not allowed to do by his very protective parents.

The speaker was terribly afraid of these other children and feared their strength 'more than
tigers'. Their muscles were 'like iron' which implies that they were strong because of all the
physical activity or that they came from a rough neighbourhood and were hardened by their
harsh lives. They obviously bullied the speaker, for their hands were 'jerking', a reference to
their constant pulling and shoving and reaching out to him. 'Their knees tight on my arms'
makes it painfully obvious that they physically abused him.

He was afraid of the constant teasing by the other boys. Painfully aware of their attitudes,
their mockery would rub salt into his already wounded ego. Their actions were harsh.
Their 'pointing' is a clear indication of their rejection. They 'copied my lisp' further indicating
that they made fun of how he spoke.

In the final stanza, the speaker further illustrates his envy for these children. They 'were
lithe'', seemingly he could not be, since he was not given the opportunity to partake in rough
activities. However the animal imagery makes it clear that he does not admire them
since 'they sprang out behind hedges' obviously to scare him as an animal would do to
surprise its prey. They were 'like dogs' further emphasising their savage nature and they
would 'bark at our world'. This line clearly emphasizes that the speaker sees himself
completely apart from these rough children. They come from entirely different worlds - he,
civilized and they not.

The last two lines has much pathos. The speaker attempts to appear brave by looking 'the
other way, pretending to smile', but obviously, he cannot. He had the desire to forgive them
for the manner in which they treated him, but they, of course, never gave him the opportunity
to do so and rejected him outright - 'yet they never smiled'. He did not stand a chance with
them.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MY PARENTS Themes Parental Influence Social Segregation His parents taught


him to saty away from the lower class kids even though he wanted to play with
them His parents taught him to stay away from the lower class children, even
though he wanted to be part of their group. Social Segregation in the society the
narrator lived, there was a big separation between the social clases, and that is
the basic of the poem. Discrimination Heidi with blue hair In this poem, she is
discriminated because of a physical aspect, whereas in My Parents, the
discrimination is because of a social status. Both are caused because of the
problems in society, and not by specific people- Heidi:
the girl's dad is dealing against society with his daughter, and both are 'fighting'
against it together My Parents:
The parents of the narrator are the ones that taught him how to discriminate
others, but he never learns WHY. My parents kept me from children who were
rough
and who threw words like stones and who wore torn clothes.
Their thighs showed through rags. They ran in the street
And climbed cliffs and stripped by the country streams.

I feared more than tigers their muscles like iron


And their jerking hands and their knees tight on my arms.
I feared the salt coarse pointing of those boys
Who copied my lisp behind me on the road.

They were lithe, they sprang out behind hedges


Like dogs to bark at our world. They threw mud
And I looked another way, pretending to smile,
I longed to forgive them, yet they never smiled. Voice 1st voice narrative
Follower One Art Childhood His own feelings and what he thinks What he
sees, describing his sorrowndings; other people, not himself He Describes
On My parents
They shouted at him, probably bullying him, and, just like stones, their
words were hurtful. Similie connotates rough and strong vocabulary that
they used They could not afford their own clothes. They had the freedom
that the narrator wants and envies.
Lack of parental supervition Similie "muscles like iron": 'iron'-cold and
hard; represents the fear of the narrator of being hit by the strong boys
physicaly traped --> socially traped the way the boys pointed and and
imitated him, scared and intimidated the narrator there wasn't real
happiness since he PRETENDED to smile, and they NEVER smiled back. In
HEIDI WITH BLUE HAIR the dad fights with her againts society, while in my
parents, the narrators parents represent the society. My parents kept me
from children who were rough
Who threw words like stones and who wore torn clothes.
Their thighs showed through rags. They ran in the street
And climbed cliffs and stripped by the country streams.
CEASURA: the structure emphazises contrast on two ideas:
1-What he is taght (to look down at the lower class)
2-what he thinks (admiration and jealousy for their freedom and their
fearless personalities) The Poet Stephen Spender His work was usually
about social injustice,
and the struggle of lower social classes Historical context Stephen
Spender lived in the United Kingdom
in a time when the difference between social
classes was vey big, and that would be the
main reason for the theme of his poems. Stephen spender also had
Hebrew origins, and this
can be seen by how he uses poetry to cause a
social change, just as it was used by biblical prophets
in the past. General Specific MOOD Setting The setting is mainly in the
streets of a city,
where different social classes interact with each other. In this poem the
upper class boy is
being rejected and bothered by the
lower class boys because he is different. Atmosphere In this poem there is
the idea of an isolation of the upper
class, because the boy from this class is rejected by the
rest. There is also the idea of fear becuse even though he wishes to be like
them he is scared of them for what they do to him. Change The poem
changes importantly between stansas.
In the first stansa it describes how this lower class kids
were, and what they did, but diffrently in the second
stansa it talks about what they did to him and how he
felt about them.

Later on in the third stanza he talks about how he wanted to be friend


with the other kids, but couldn't In this poem there is also a change in
mood. In thefirst stansa we are shown the harsh life of poor people, and
we fell pity, but in the second stanza this pity switches to the boy because
we see how he is constanly bothered by the rest. In the third stansa as we
see the impossibility of friendship between classes we see the isolation
caused by the way society works.
BY : DANTE PESCE
JOSEFINA BENDERSKY THE END :) like in My Parents he maily describes
other people and not himself, in this case he describes his father, while in
My Parents he describes the low class boys. Purpose The purpose of this
poem is to protest against the separation between social classes at that
time, and it shows how even though the middle class boy wanted the
same as everyone else, he was rejected solely for the social class he
belonged to. This poem also shows how the cause isn't the individual
persons, but society, which has divided people into classes, and also of
the way people are taught from a very young age that they cannot relate
with people that are different to them. In this poem its the parents who
taught him to stay away from this kids because they were poor.
Effectiveness We think this poem is effective because it clarly shows the
way society used to work, and it also shows us this personal situation of
the boy which is unable to make friends because of social segregation.
Personal Opinion In our opinion this is a good poem because it is able to
describe clearly the truth of that times society by using as an example the
life of a middle class boy which tries to be friends with some lower class
boys. "Like dogs to bark at my world" Here he describes them as dogs,
which gives the idea that they are agressive and dangerous, which shows
his fear, but the fact that he talks of them as dogs also shows that he
looks down on them like if they were stray dogs, unpleasand. Also the fact
that he says "my world" and not him means that they arent particularly
against him, but that they are against the world he is part of.
Similies:
They were lithe, they sprang out behind hedges
Like dogs to bark at our world. They threw mud
And I looked another way, pretending to smile,
I longed to forgive them, yet they never smiled. CEASURA: the separation
of the structure of this stansa emphasises the separation of two ideas
1-The fact that their conflict was caused by society, and how they had
something against his social class and not him.
2-How he "longed to forgive them but they never smiled." which shows
that he tries to break the barrier separating them, but he fails because
both the low class boys and society are against this. His father was a
journalist, and his mother was a painter and also a poet, which could
explain why Stephen Spender became not only a poet, but also a novelist
and an essayist. In 1965 he became the Poet Laureate of the United
States, which meant he was the official poet of the nation, which duty is to
further interest citizens in the reading and writing of poetry.

What are the themes of "My Parents Kept Me from Children Who Were Rough"
The themes of "My Parents Kept Me from Children Who Were Rough" by Stephen Spender
include jealousy and resentment. Specifically, the author resents his parents for protecting
him from what they perceived to be dangerous children. As a result, the author is jealous of
the freedom of the other children in the poem.

Throughout the poem, Spender uses antithesis to compare and contrast the differences
between him and the other children. For example, he describes the other children as having
"muscles like iron" while the author suffered from a club foot that prevented him from being
as strong as the other children. In addition, Spender writes about how the children "climbed
cliffs" and "sprang out behind hedges." However, the author describes how he would simply
look the other way when he became too jealous.

Spender also alludes to the fact that the children he was so envious of made fun of him. He
specifically mentions the children copying his lisp and physically attacking him. Although he
does not explicitly mention his parents, the title expresses his disdain for the way his parents
raised him. The poem as a whole indicates that he would have been accepted by the other
children had he been able to play with them.

What is the theme of the poem?How might the lack of rhyme and rhythme be releated to the
theme? IS the poem a verse poem or prose? explain"My Parents kept me from children who
were rough

One of the themes of the poem 'My parents kept me from children who were rough' by
Stephen Spender is isolation - another is lack of control. There is a certain lack of rhyme and
rhythm in that the poem is conversational in tone and tempo, and the language is plain and
vernacular. This may be because the poet is sharing his innermost feelings and memories
with his readers in a private way - like telling a confidence. This style also has the benefit of
delivering the poet's message in an authentic manner - perhaps more like the way that
youing people would speak. The child may have been taught to feel sorry for,or even look
down on, the local 'ruffian' children. Yet in some ways he does not feel superior to them .
They are strong and healthy, fit and agile. They have joyous freedoms to enjoy the natural
environment in a way he does not. They are not repressed or prevented by their parents as
he is. We feel he is just waiting for the bariers of his isolation to come down,but as he says,
they never do.

ANALYSIS
This poem could be a personal or biographical depiction of Spender's early life suffering the
disability of a club foot and a speech impediment. The use of the first person, stark
contrasts, and ambiguity give us a vivid picture of a child troubled by a
superiority/inferiority complex.
While his parents are condescending towards the rough coarse children, the child appears
envious of their carefree liberty, their unbridled animal prowess and uninhibited playfulness,
yet resentful of their bullying behaviour to him.
We can visualise the persona through antithesis. He is everything that they are not; softly
spoken (words like stones), well dressed (torn clothes, rags), passive ( they ran and
climbed), inhibited - modesty (they stripped by country streams), weak (muscles of iron),
well mannered (salt coarse pointing) lisp (parodied by copying), clumsy (lithe), and friendly (
hostile- they never smiled).
His attempts at conciliation and acceptance are rebuffed but he appears to blame his
parents for psychologically damaging him by over protection or shielding him from a natural
childhood. While their superior attitude (snobbery?) has excluded him from mainstream
society he ambivalently identifies with his parents by having the boys spring “like dogs to
bark at our world”.
Who is more to blame, the boys or his parents? Good literature avoids giving answers
rather allows the responder to do their own thinking and reach their own conclusions.

My Parents Kept me from Children who were Rough My parents kept me from
children who were rough And who threw words like stones and who wore torn
clothes. Their thighs showed through rags. They ran in the street And climbed
cliffs and stripped by the country streams. I feared more than tigers their
muscles like iron And their jerking hands and their knees tight on my arms. I
feared the salt coarse pointing of those boys Who copied my lisp behind me on
the road. They were lithe, they sprang out behind hedges Like dogs to bark at
our world. They threw mud And I looked another way, pretending to smile. I
longed to forgive them, yet they never smiled. S tephen Spender

2 My Parents Kept me from Children who were Rough My parents kept me


from children who were rough And who threw words like stones and who wore
torn clothes. Their thighs showed through rags. They ran in the street And
climbed cliffs and stripped by the country streams. I feared more than tigers
their muscles like iron And their jerking hands and their knees tight on my
arms. I feared the salt coarse pointing of those boys Who copied my lisp
behind me on the road. They were lithe, they sprang out behind hedges Like
dogs to bark at our world. They threw mud And I looked another way,
pretending to smile. I longed to forgive them, yet they never smiled. S tephen
Spender These words are verbs – doing words. They relate to the ‘rough
children’s’ behaviour. How would you summarise their behaviour?

3 My Parents Kept me from Children who were Rough My parents kept me


from children who were rough And who threw words like stones and who wore
torn clothes. Their thighs showed through rags. They ran in the street And
climbed cliffs and stripped by the country streams. I feared more than tigers
their muscles like iron And their jerking hands and their knees tight on my
arms. I feared the salt coarse pointing of those boys Who copied my lisp
behind me on the road. They were lithe, they sprang out behind hedges Like
dogs to bark at our world. They threw mud And I looked another way,
pretending to smile. I longed to forgive them, yet they never smiled. S tephen
Spender These words describe the ‘rough children’s’ appearance. What does
this suggest about their lives?

4 My Parents Kept me from Children who were Rough My parents kept me


from children who were rough And who threw words like stones and who wore
torn clothes. Their thighs showed through rags. They ran in the street And
climbed cliffs and stripped by the country streams. I feared more than tigers
their muscles like iron And their jerking hands and their knees tight on my
arms. I feared the salt coarse pointing of those boys Who copied my lisp
behind me on the road. They were lithe, they sprang out behind hedges Like
dogs to bark at our world. They threw mud And I looked another way,
pretending to smile. I longed to forgive them, yet they never smiled. S tephen
Spender These words describe the child kept away from the ‘rough children’.
What does this suggest about the child?

Centres d'intérêt liés