The blog is an attempt to embark on an insightful journey into the nature of the most important language, English. Avail the blog to keep yourself updated on the course specifications, instructions, notes, sample papers, extra reading material and 'missed-out' tests and assignments.Help the blog to live in all its shades by reading and questioning it regularly.
Think, speak and live English!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Childhood – Markus Natten

In this poem, the poet, Markus Natten wonders when and where he lost his childhood. In this quest to find the moment he grew up, Markus highlights the innocence and faith he lost even as he gained rational individuality.

Adolescence is usually a confusing time for a child who is unable to immediately come to terms with the physical, hormonal and psychological changes in his or her personality. He no longer feels like a child but is not quite ready to call himself an adult either.

In the poem, 'The Rainbow', William Wordsworth claims, 'Child is the father of man'. Markus seems to be echoing this thought as he underscores how in our childhood innocence lay our ability to appreciate the simpler aspects of life and thus, the child can teach the adult how to appreciate things the latter often takes for granted.

The refrain:
The refrain of any poem is/are line (s) that repeat at regular intervals throughout the poem. The refrain often carries the central message of the poem. The two lines which do so in this poem are:
When did my childhood go?.... 
Was that the day!
The first line (which is a question) identifies the central theme of the poem, that is, the attempt to identify when exactly the poet lost his childhood.
The second line begins with a question word but ends with an exclamation. Hence, it is no more a mere question. Rhetorical in nature, this line brings out the poet's sense of realisation.

Stanza - wise interpretation:

Stanza 1: 
The poet wonders when he lost his childhood. He muses that perhaps it was the day he realised that the concepts of Heaven and Hell, he had been taught of since his youngest years, had no standing in the light of the day. Geography textbooks did not give the location of any such place. Education made the poet question his faith and look at the world much more rationally. The poet realises that he might have lost his childhood when he gained this rational outlook.

Stanza 2:
In the second stanza, the poet recalls the time when he realised that the adults around him did not practise what they preached. They told the poet to be loving and caring, however, they were themselves argumentative, violent and discourteous. Their behaviour was a far cry from the love they sermonised about and advocated so reverently to the child. 
Thus, the child lost his faith in the adults around him, whom he had so far, trusted without question. Their latent hypocrisy became evident to the growing child. Perhaps, says Natten, that broken trust was one of the major steps towards adulthood.
Notice, that this is perhaps, the longest line of the poem. Markus Natten is a genius at putting punctuation to use. The length of this line and the difficulty to recite it in one go, indicates that this is perhaps the biggest loss the child has suffered.

Stanza 3: 
As he grew up, the poet realised that his mind was unique, could form its own opinions and could take its own decisions. He gained a sense of individuality which set him free from the prejudiced opinions of others around him. His own experiences shaped his thoughts now and he realised that this might have been the time he lost his childhood innocence completely.

Stanza 4: 
In the final stanza, the poet changes his question. From wondering at what point in time, he had lost his childhood, the poet now wonders where it went.
The last three lines may be interpreted in two ways.
The poet claims that his childhood is nothing more than a long lost memory. He recalls his infancy and believes that his true childhood resides there, in that infant's face, and that innocence cannot resurface in this lifetime.
The poet believes that his childhood has become nothing more than a memory for him but has become the reality of some other infant. Innocence is a cyclical process where lost from one person, it travels to another, finding residence there. Thus, till date, adults can easily recall and seem to almost relive their own childhood, through an infant in their lives.

Why does the poet think that he had lost his childhood?
The poet, Markus Natten, believes that he has lost his childhood. He believes so because he has lost the innocence and purity of his childhood. When he was a child, he used to believe in the existence of Hell and Heaven. He also believed that adults had real love. In his childhood he didn’t have any egoistic attitude.

What did the poet realize when he was twelve years?
At the age of twelve, the poet learnt that Hell and Heaven were not real but mere stories and that science didn’t support the existence of Hell and heaven.

What did the poet realize about adults?
The poet used to believe that his elders were sincere about relationship and love. But later he realized that their love was not real. He saw that the adults were only talking about love but never loved anyone.

What happened to the poet when he was aware of his ego?
At the end of his childhood, the poet realized that he too was a separate individual. He began to take his own decisions. He seldom listened to his elders because he began to place himself at the center of everything.

What misunderstandings did the poet have about adults till he became one? 
The poet, until he was himself an adult, had thought that the grown up people had real love for others. He believed that their love was true and they were ready to die for their loved ones.

How did adults ‘seem’ to the poet when he was a child? 
When the poet was a child adults seemed to him as messengers and poets of love. He heard them singing love songs and talking endlessly about love and romance.

Bring out the hypocrisy that the adults inhibit with regards to love.
Adults talk too much about love and almost every aspect of the adult life is closely connected with love; movies, plays, novels and songs. But the poet believes that the adults are hypocritical about love because in practice they do not have true love for others.

How do social interactions kill a child in a child?
A human being is supposed to live as innocent as a child throughout his life but it is very hard in a society that believes “complexity is maturity and science is the final word.” When the child grows up, he hears, sees, understands and accept new codes of behavior and new concepts of growth.

Where does the poet find his lost childhood? How can he get it back?
The poet, a specimen of the counterfeit personality, finds his lost childhood on the face of a child. he can get it back only when he commits to be child again, forgetting the complex adult concepts and pseudo maturity perceptions.

Reference to Context Questions
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!

What is the age of the poet?
What is the poet’s mood?
Why does the poet suspect science in connection with his losing his childhood?

When did my childhood go?
Was it the time I realised 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!

How were the adults responsible for the poet’s sadness?
What did the poet realize about adults when he was yet a child?

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 my alone,
Was that the day!

What did the poet discover about his mind? How was that discovery important?

Where did my childhood go?
It went to some forgotten place,
That’s hidden in an infant’s face,
That’s all I know.

Otherwise Questions

The poet asks four questions in the poem but he knows only one answer for sure? What is that and why is it so?

Is it easy to retain one’s childhood innocence throughout his life? How can one do it without being adulterated by religion, education and the mainstream society?

Question Bank:

Short answer questions –

Q.1.Read the lines given below and answer the questions that follow:_

       When did my childhood go?
       Was it the day I ceased to be eleven,
       Was it the time I realised that Hell and Heaven,
       Could not be found in Geography,
       And therefore could not be,
       Was that the day!
      (a) What questions rises in the poet’s mind?
      (b) Which two occassions come to his mind as an answer?
      (c) Explain the meaning of the line “And therefore could not be.” How does it relate to the end of childhood?

Q.2.Read the lines below and answer the questions that follow:-
       When did my childhood go?
       Was it the time I realised that adults were not
       all they seemed to be,

(a)    What is the name of the poem? Who has written it?
(b)   What realisation comes to the child regarding adults?
(c)    Why does this realisation make him feel that his childhood has gone?

Q.3.Read the lines given below and answer the following questions:-
       They talked of love and preached of love,
       But did not act so lovingly,
       Was that the day?

(a)    Name the poem and the poet?
(b)   Who are they?
(c)    How is the poet’s observation about ‘their’ behaviour significant?
(d)   Complete the question raised in the last line

Q.4.Read the lines given below and answer the following questions:-
       When did my childhood go?
       Was it when I found my mind was really mine,
       To use whichever may I choose,
       Producing thoughts that were not those of other people
       But my own, and mine alone
       Was that the day!

(a)    What do words ‘my mind was really mine’ mean?
(b)   What kind of feeling is generated in the mind of the poet in lines 3,4,5?
(c)    Which day is the poet referring to? Do you think the poet’s feeling is right?

Q.5.Read the lines given below and answer the following questions:-
       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)    Name the poem and the poet?
(b)   What is ‘it’ mentioned in line2?
(c)    What do lines 2 nd 3 mean?

Q.6. What conclusion did the poet come to about Hell and Heaven?
Q.6. What did the poet notice about his mind? How important was this discovery?
Q.7. Where can the poet find his childhood? Is it lost irrevocably?
         Q.8. What did the child observe in the behaviour of adults? How was his observation relevant to question that rose in his mind?
         Q.9. What is the poet trying yo discover in the poem ‘Childhood’?What significant occasions has he mentioned?
         Q.10.Of all the occasions mentioned in the poem,which do you think really shows that the poet is no longer a child?
                 Give reasons for your answer?


  1. You did a great work of plagiarism......just bluntly copied all the hardwork and content of g's cbse blog of this chapter. Great work LoSEr