English CBSE Class 12 NCERT Flamingo Poem 2 An Elementary Classroom in a Slum Line by Line Explanation and Meaning of Difficult Words
AN ELEMENTARY CLASSROOM IN A SLUM
The poem describes scene of a classroom. Students of this school are from slum area.
Far far from gusty waves these children’s faces.
Like rootless weeds, the hair torn round their pallor:
|Far far||Very far|
|Gusty||Strong and irregular|
|Gusty waves||Full of energy|
|Rootless||Without roots, Without foundation|
|Torn||Improperly cut, Uncombed|
|Like rootless weeds||Simile|
Very far from being full of energy, their faces are without any energy and vigour. These children appear as if they do not have any roots or values. It looks like they are unwanted in the society. Their hair are improperly cut and are not combed. Their hair are falling on their pale looking weak faces.
Most of the students have accepted their present conditions. They do not have any desire to move ahead.
The tall girl with her weighed-down head.
The paper seeming boy, with rat’s eyes.
|Weighed down||Keeping low|
|Paper seeming boy||Metaphor|
In the class there is a girl who is tall. Her head is bowed down due to burden of poverty. She is looking sick and tired. A boy is as thin and as white as a paper. His eyes are like eyes of a rat. [Means her eyes are greedy and projecting more than normal.] Because he is very thin his eyes look projecting more than normal.
The stunted, unlucky heir
Of twisted bones, reciting a father’s gnarled disease,
His lesson, from his desk.
|Heir||Inheritor, Legal owner of property after someone’s death|
|Reciting||Speaking repeatedly, Showing|
One boy in the class is underdeveloped. His father had rough and twisted bones. The boy has inherited this disease from his father. This is visible from his bones which are also twisted. This boy is reading his lessons sitting at his desk.
At back of the dim class
One unnoted, sweet and young.
|Dim||Having less light|
One boy is sitting at the back bench. The class room does not have adequate light hence it is called a dim class room. The boy is young and charming. Nobody has noticed him.
The class room has been referred as dim to indicate lack or absence of opportunity for these students.
His eyes live in a dream,
Of squirrel’s game, in tree room, other than this.
|In tree room, other than this||Alliteration|
He does not seem to be noting down anything from the lesson taught in the class. He has dreams in his eyes. His attention is towards a tree outside the class. A squirrel is playing a game in the hole of the tree.
This hole in the stem of a tree, where squirrel lives, is referred as tree hole. Reference to squirrel game is made to indicate that this boys is playful.
The attention of the boy is to the world outside the class room. Means that he is having dreams of playing in the open world. He wants to move away from the restrictions imposed by his socio-economic conditions.
On sour cream walls, donations. Shakespeare’s head,
Cloudless at dawn, civilized dome riding all cities.
|Sour cream||Dull yellow colour|
|at dawn, civilized dome||Alliteration|
Colour of walls of the class room is dull yellow. Through donations some posters have been put on the walls. One of the posters is of great scholar Shakespeare. The Shakespeare’s poster represents education. There is another poster of the Sun rising on cloudless morning. The poster of rising Sun represents light and hope all over the world. Together, education, light and hope means culture and civilization.
Belled, flowery, Tyrolese valley.
Awarding the world its world.
|Belled||It refers to church|
|Flowery||Full of flowers|
|the world its world||Repetition|
There is a poster of church. The word ‘belled’ refers to church – every church has a bell. There is poster of Tyrolese river valley which is full of flowers. There is a poster of map of the world. The map is described as open-handed because the world is open to everyone. The world gives opportunity to everyone who makes an attempt. Thus everyone can change one’s circumstances and create one’s own world.
And yet, for these
Children, these windows, not this map, their world,
But for these children, their world is within the window of the class. Meaning that their world is limited to the place within which they live. It is confined to their slums and the classroom. The map of the world does not have any meaning to them. Because they are not able to move beyond their present conditions.
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.
|Sealed in with lead a sky||Metaphor|
|Stars of wisdom||Metaphor|
|Far far from rivers||Repetition|
Their future is not clear, it is hazy. As fog makes visibility poor, their socio-economic conditions have made their future bleak. Their life is limited to their slums. This limited space does not have any opportunity to improve themselves. So ‘narrow street’ has been used metaphorically to indicate limits of their life. Lead is a metal used for sealing and plugging an opening. So ‘sealed in with a lead sky’ has been metaphorically used to indicate absence of any opportunity. The river symbolizes continuous movement. Capes symbolizes good clothes. Stars of words symbolizes good education. These children are stagnant, do not have access to decent clothes and good education.
Surely, Shakespeare is wicked, the map a bad example,
With ships and sun and love tempting them to steal—
|Wicked||Evil, Wrong, Bad|
|Ships and Sun||Alliteration|
|Ships and Sun and love||Repetition|
These children are not able to obtain any benefit from education. Therefore they do not have any regards for Shakespeare. To them Shakespeare is a wicked person. Their life is limited to their slums. Hence map which represents movement and opportunity is not a correct example for them. The posters of ship and Sun indicate travel, brightness and acceptance. They do not have access to any of these aspects. So in order to obtain acceptance, they engage themselves in stealing.
For lives that slyly turn in their cramped holes
From fog to endless night?
|Slyly||Deceitfully, Cunningly, Secretly|
Their life is limited to small and over-crowded houses. Their house is small and many people live in one house. Their life does not give then any opportunity. So poet says that it is deceiving them. Their life is hazy (meaning unclear). The darkness in their life is never ending. ‘Endless night’ has been metaphorically used to indicate absence of happiness and opportunity.
On their slag heap, these children
Wear skins peeped through by bones and spectacles of steel
With mended glass, like bottle bits on stones.
|Like bottle bits on stones||Simile|
These children live on heaps of rejects and waste. Meaning that they live in dirty environment. They are so weak that their bones are visible through their skins. Meaning that they do not get sufficient food. Their specs are made of steel. It is fitted with repaired glass. So it looks like made by joining many pieces broken glass. Meaning that they are not able to see the outside world. There are several restriction.
All of their time and space are foggy slum.
So blot their maps with slums as big as doom.
|Doom||Terrible fate, Misfortune|
|As big as doom||Metaphor|
|All of their time||Alliteration|
|Space are foggy slums||Alliteration|
Their life is forever limited to their dirty slums. The area around them is filled with bigger slums. So alround them they have slums. It is a misfortune that they get to see only slums around them. These indicate that escape from their present conditions is not possible.
Unless, governor, inspector, visitor,
This map becomes their window
Unless the government, authorities and public does something good for them, their outlook will remain restricted to their present surroundings. These authorities should do the required so that the maps and posters put up on the wall become the world of these children also. Meaning that they should be able to align and understand the world presented through these posters.
The word ‘governor’ is used for government. The word ‘inspector’ is used for authorities. The word ‘visitor’ is used for common people or public.
and these windows
That shut upon their lives like catacombs,
Break O break open till they break the town
|Catacomb||Underground burial, Labyrinth|
|That shut upon their lives like catacombs||Alliteration|
|Break O break open till they break open||Repetition|
And these windows of opportunities are completely shut for them. Their hopes are buried in an underground burial. The word ‘catacomb’ is used to indicate the difficulty in changing the present situation. These authorities must break the windows (change the situation) till these children are able to move beyond their slums. Her the word ‘town’ is used to indicate the world beyond their slums.
And show the children to green fields, and make their world
Run azure on gold sands,
These children should be able to see the green fields. Their world should consist of bright blue colour of sky and golden colour of sands. ‘Run azure on gold sand’ means to run under the open blue sky on golden sand. Words ‘green fields’, ‘run azure’ and ‘gold sands’ have been used to indicate a new open world which is full of opportunities.
and let their tongues
Run naked into books the white and green leaves open
History theirs whose language is the sun.
|And let their tongues||Alliteration|
Here the word ‘tongue’ means freedom of expression. ‘White’ means books. ‘Green leaves’ means unpolluted environment.
The poet says that these children should be provided with freedom of expression, books to read and a clean environment. These would open up new opportunities and a new dimension to them.
The word ‘Sun’ symbolizes light and growth. The poet says that those who believe in education and growth, can themselves create history.