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Childhood

1 mark
What according to the poem, is involved in the process of growing up?
The poet feels that in order to grow up, an individual has to lose his childhood.
The gains of growing up are the understanding, ability to gain an identity of
one’s own and power to rationalize etc.

2 marks
Identify the stanza that talks of each of the following:
• Individuality - 3rd stanza
• Rationalism – 1st stanza
• Hypocrisy – 2nd stanza

What is the poet’s feeling towards childhood?


The poet does not appear to feel sad or upset at the loss of his childhood. He only
seems to be puzzled at the disappearance of childhood and the arrival of
adulthood. He expresses his confusion when he asks the questions ‘When’ and
‘Where did my childhood go’?

Which, do you think are the most poetic lines? Why?


The lines that appear to be the most poetic are
‘It went to some forgotten place
That’s hidden in an infant’s face,
That’s all I know
These lines sum up beautifully the process of growth and the disappearance of a
particular stage of life. These lines express metaphorically that an infant’s
innocent face hides many things behind its smiles. Perhaps the childhood also
lies hidden somewhere in the child’s consciousness.

What did the speaker learn about the existence of Heaven and Hell?
The speaker learnt about the existence of Heaven and Hell when he ceased to be
eleven and realised that these places do not exist in Geography and hence one
could not locate them exactly at some place.

How did the speaker realise the hypocrisy of the adults?


The speaker realised the hypocrisy of the adults when he saw that the adults did
not practise what they preached. The talk of love that they indulged in was only
superficial.

How did the realisation of being the master of his own mind helped him?
The realisation of being the master of his own mind helped him when he could
now choose to use his mind whichever way he wanted. He could produce
thoughts that were his own and not governed by other people.

How does the speaker find the behaviour of adults contradictory?


The speaker finds a contradiction in the behaviour of the adults because they
preached something else and practised something different. They talked of love
but did not act lovingly. This puzzles the speaker and he is able to comprehend
the hypocrisy in the adult’s attitude.

What did the poet realize on a particular day when he talks about his
mind?
The poet talks about his mind on the day he realised that he was the master of his
own mind. He could control his own thoughts and not be governed by anyone.

Does the poet use a consistent rhyme scheme in all the stanzas?
No, the poet uses a varied rhyme scheme which is different in all the stanzas.

What is the implication of the line ‘That’s hidden in an infant’s face’?


The poet uses the metaphorical expression to sum up the idea that a particular
stage of life disappears when the transition from childhood to adulthood starts.
The innocent face of an infant hides a lot of things behind his smiles. Perhaps the
childhood also lies hidden somewhere in the child’s consciousness.

4 marks

When did my childhood go?


Was it the day I ceased to be eleven,
Was it the time I realized that Hell and Heaven,
Could not be found in Geography
And therefore could not be,
Was that the day!

a) Name the poem and the poet.


The poem is ‘Childhood’ and the poet is Marcus Natten.

b) When did the speaker lose his childhood?


The speaker lost his childhood when he ceased to be eleven.

c) What did the speaker realize about Hell and Heaven?


The speaker realised that Hell and Heaven are two places that are not seen in
any Geography books and hence could not be found to be existing.

When did my childhood go?


Was it the time I realized that adults were not
All they seemed to be
They talked of love and preached of love,
But did not act so lovingly,
Was that the day?

a) What did the speaker realize and when?


The speaker realised that the adults were not actually as they appeared to be on
the surface.

b) What contradictions did he notice in the behaviour of the adults?


He noticed the contradictions in the behaviour of the adults that they preached
something else and practise something different. They talked of love but never
showed any affection. Hence, they have double standards.

c) How would you describe the adults?


The adults have double-standards and they arehypocrites.

When did my childhood go?


Was it when I found my mind was really mine,
To use whichever way I choose,
Producing thoughts that were not those of other people
But my own, and mine alone
Was that the day!

a) Which day does the poet refer to?


The poet refers to the day when he lost his childhood.

b) What did he realize on that particular day?


On this day, he realised that he was the master of his own mind. He could use it
the way he liked. He could control his own thoughts and not be governed by
others.

c) Which trait of the poet is hinted at in these lines?


It shows the identity or individuality of the poet.

Where did my childhood go?


It went to some forgotten place
That’s hidden in an infant’s face,
That’s all I know

a) What shift of thought do you notice in this stanza?


The poet is no longer worried about when he lost his childhood. He is more
concerned about where it disappeared.

b) Explain ‘That’s all I know’.


The speaker says his childhood went away to some forgotten place that is
hidden in an infant’s face. He only understands this much. He thus indicates
that childhood is a stage of innocence that comes before adolescence.

c) How does the poet react towards the loss of childhood?


The poet does not seem to worry about having lost his childhood. He has
developed his mind, his ability to think rationally and has gained his own
individuality.