POEM 2 Here’s the quick notes for all of you for last minute revision…after revising the notes do attempt the Google form. LINK PROVIDED .GOOGLE FORMS PAGE JOIN MY TELEGRAM GROUP FOR LATEST RESOURCES/STUDY MATERIAL. TELEGRAM CHANNEL.
● Poem: An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum
● Name of the poet: Stephen spender
A. Global question of
- social injustice
- plight of slum children
- poor condition of classrooms
B. An appeal to the concerned authorities:
- to provide them with good
- equality in life and
- open the doors of
opportunities to them.
First stanza : Description of slum children:
- Pale and lifeless faces.
- Unwanted by society (like rootless
- Depressed and oppressed.
- Stunted growth.
- Inherited diseases.
- an unnoticed young boy lost in
- Absent mentally from the
- He daydreams of a squirrel’s game
and about the tree house.
Second stanza: Description of the classroom:
- Sour cream walls means the walls are dirty.
- In very poor and neglected condition.
- Posters and pictures children can’t relate to:
(a) Shakespeare’s head indicating knowledge and learning.
(b) the picture of a clear sky at dawn
(c) Tyrolese valley indicating beauty of nature and hope.
(d) dome of an ancient city building standing for civilization and progress
(e) map on the wall [meaningless for these children as it shows a developed outside
(f) classroom window shows them only narrow streets and lead sky[indicating a
(g)far away from rivers, seas [adventure and learning].
(h)cut off from the stars that stand for words that can empower their future.
(i)words written under the pictures appear like distant stars(unachievable as they’re
not given opportunities for even basic learning).
Third Stanza: Shakespeare and the map are bad examples:
- Shakespeare is wicked:
a. has written only about rich
b. tempts them to steal.
- Map is of no interest :
a. does not reflect the cramped holes
b. dark lanes (unhygienic
c. lives dull and hopeless.
d. They are malnourished.
e. Live amidst slag of heap.
f. Wear spectacles of steel(lead a
g. with cracked glasses(distorted vision)
h. Their life (time and space) is foggy and
- Maps should be replaced with slums.
Fourth Stanza: Appeal and Hope:
- Governor, inspector and visitor should bring about a change in their lives.
- Their life is confined to this slum that encloses their lives like catacombs
- The barriers between rich and poor need to be broken.
- Children should be exposed to:
a) the green fields and golden sands(bright outside world)
b) empowered with education.
c) have the freedom of expression.
- They will then rewrite their history which will be bright.
- Only the educated people whose language has strength and power can create
- Alliteration (same consonant sound):
a.far far from, b. surely Shakespeare, c. bottle bits, d.from fog.
a.far far, b.world its world, c.break’o’break
a. gusty waves :- full of energy.
b. paper-seeming :- very thin
c. rat’s eyes :- hunger/greedily
looking for food.
d. gnarled disease:- handicapped
e. tree room :- place of comfort
f. fog :- darkness
g. lead sky :- dark future
h. future’s painted with fog :-
uncertain and unclear/bleak
i. cramped holes :- tight places,
comparing their lives to rats.
j. cracked glasses :-distorted vision.
k. history is theirs whose language is
the sun:- the children who are
educated create history
l. stars of words :- words of literature
like bright stars
m. skins peeped through by bones:-
n. Wear spectacles of steel :- lead a
a.like rootless weeds :- the children have been compared to weeds or the unwanted
section of society.
b.like bottle bits on stones:- the spectacles frame their stony-eyed expressions/hard
c.like catacombs:- the classroom and the homes in which the slum children live have
been compared to underground burial chambers.
- Pun( figurative):
a.reciting:- it means repeating a lesson but here it is used for inheriting a disease.
b.sour cream :- it has been used to show how the neglected walls of classroom have
turned a dirty yellow but it suggests a classroom where all dreams turn sour.
c.lead sky :-sky polluted with industrial fumes but here it refers to the sky that does
not open opportunities.
- Symbols and Imagery:
a.children’s faces. b.weighed down head. c.paper seeming boy.
d. Stunted twisted bones e.sweet and young f.squirrels game
g.tree room h.sour cream walls i.Shakespeare’s head
j.cloudless at dawn k.dome l.flowery valley
m.open-handed map n.narrow street o.lead sky
p.rivers q.ships and sun r.skins peeped through by bones
s.spectacles of steel t.mended glass u.bottle bits on stones
v.foggy slum w.catacombs x.green fields
y.gold sands z.white and green leaves.
Phrases with meanings:
- Weighed down head : feeling physically and mentally exhausted
- Sour cream walls : unpleasant
- Painted with fog : dark gloomy future
- Lead sky : heavily polluted sky
- Cramped hole : dark and dingy
- Foggy slum : blur future
- Cloudless at dawn : weak morning sun
- What theme does Stephen Spender explore in the poem ‘An Elementary School
Classroom in a Slum’?
Ans. Stephen Spender explores the themes of social injustice and class inequality.
According to him, the students who study in the school situated in a slum area don’t benefit
out of it. The images convey the poverty, hunger and neglect of schools in the slums.
2.Why does the poet say that the pictures and maps in the elementary school
classroom are meaningless?
Ans. The pictures and maps in the elementary school classroom are meaningless because
they are of no practical use to these children. The map on the wall signifies the exclusive
world of rich and prosperous people. But the children sitting in in this classroom are poor,
underfed and deprived in every way.
- Which two images are used to describe the slums?
Ans. ‘Slag heap’/foggy slums/lead sky/catacombs/’mended glass, like bottle bits on stones’
are the two images used to describe the slums.
- What does the poet want for the children of the slums?
Ans. The poet wants that these children should be properly educated so that they can
change the fate of their lives. They should be able to rewrite the history of poverty with that
of development and prosperity. He wants the concerned authorities to become the guide of
these slum children.
- What is the world of slum children like?
World of the slum children:
- Limited to the world seen through the windows of the classroom and not what the
- Full of misery and hopelessness. condition of the slum children.
- future is foggy, bleak and dull.
- From classroom windows, they can only see:
a)the narrow streets of the slum b)dull sky indicating a bleak future.
- Are far away from rivers, seas (that indicate adventure and learning).
- The words written under the pictures appear like distant stars(unachievable as
they’re not given opportunities for even basic learning).