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
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.
Gusty waves = strong air symbolizing youth and energy
Pallor = pale and colorless face due to weakness
Gnarled disease = disease of twisted and rough bone
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
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.
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
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.
Slyly = secretly; cunningly
Slag = waste after removing of a rock
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
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.
Doom = death and destruction; a terrible fate
Catacombs = a series of underground tunnel used for burying dead
Azure = sky
These children of slum are very far from the open air and space. They are confined to their dark and dingy slums. They are devoid of the energy and enthusiasm of young children of their age. The children lack proper nourishment and care. The girl is bowed down with poverty and malnutrition. The boy is as slim and malnourished as a paper. His eyes are inquisitive and timid like the eyes of a rat. All this shows the pathetic condition of grim poverty the children are cursed to live in. The boy is undersized because the poverty did not allow him grow full. His body is deformed and his bones are twisted. He is not lucky to get wealth and property from his parents. He has inherited only the poverty and disease. The class room lack proper light and air. It does not mean that hope is not there. The young boy sitting at the back of the class has bright and dreaming eyes. He needs food and care. He is lost in the game of the squirrel signifies that still some children are as frisk and frolic with energy as the squirrel.
The expression witnesses how miserable the environment of the classroom is. The four walls are poorly maintained. The colour and paint has gone and they look shabby and smell damp. Perhaps earlier they had been painted with some donations and perhaps waiting some donations to revive them. The various items have been put to give it an environment of a classroom but as the poet feels all they are wrongly selected and placed. Where the children do not have the excess to the basic understanding of letters and the things in their surrounding how they can be expected to learn about the great Shakespeare the icon of literature. What is the use of placing the symbol of civilization if they themselves are cursed to live in the hellish conditions even worse than that of the primitive age? These children cannot understand and enjoy the beauty of sky cloudless at dawn and belled flowers of Tyrolese valley because they are so squeezed and compressed at their places that they are deprived of the sun of every day. They know nothing about the nearby places then how can they aspire or can be inspired to explore the world and the endless bounties awarded by God beyond the world. Only The narrow windows which fail to provide enough light and air to these children are their world now because these children can’t see any hope beyond the mist of misfortune, indifference, and insensitivity of the government and the people in power.
The streets they live in are so narrow that they can see only the dim and dark sky. In other words they have very little hope of future. They are deprived of the rivers and snow capped mountains. They have been denied to excess to education. That is why the signs of literature and the inspiration of knowing the world around them are definitely bad examples to show. These things in no way inspire these children rather they tempt and allure them to steal or snatch them. Because they are born in the utter poverty and despite best of their efforts they fail to overcome it and die buried under it. They whenever and whatever dream can only see a fogy picture of their future. These children are so badly fed that they have only the skin on their body and their bones peep through their skin. They have weak eyesight but they cannot wear new glasses and wear only the mended one. They look like the bits of bottles shattered on stones. Their future is dark and misty as they have narrow lanes full of garbage and cramped, damp and dingy cells in the name shelters. Their surrounding is so deplorably devastated that it resembles so vast a hell. These children have no idea and energy left to come out of it.
The dilapidated infrastructure of the elementary school is not and will be repaired or upgraded unless some important persons like the governor, the inspector or a politician visits the school. For a time being these children have good ambiance and infrastructure but soon it ends in an unending dark tunnel. Once they go in they are not able to see bright sunshine of life. Their dream ends in struggle for bread or in the dark underworld.
The poet asks the men in power and system to break the deadlock and the barrier that hiders the flow of money to supply basic amenities to these slum dwellers. He reminds that these people cannot be hold for long if the practice of depriving them from their rights id not stopped. Hungary bellies always create so much pressure that they must break the towns and uproot the kingdoms.
The poet asks to show green fields and vast plains to these children where they can enjoy their childhood. He asks to build better schools for them and let them go through the books so that they can learn to become self reliant and respectable citizens. The poet reminds that only educated people can lead the country to the top and transform not only themselves