CBSE Class 11 – Literature -Hornbill – Childhood — Explanation

Childhood by Markus Natten ..

What the poem is about ….. Markus Natten reminisces about his childhood days when he was so simple, ignorant, naive, and immature. As he grew up, the simplistic ideas of the world vanished and he began to see the world in its own colours. He has mostly forgotten those days, but remembers them faintly.

1st stanza .. This opening stanza, like the rest in the poem starts with the poser, “When did my childhood go?” It’s clear the speaker has grown up in age leaving his childhood years far behind. He was going to school, where he studied Geography. He got to realize that Hell and Heaven really didn’t exist. They were just fictional things that his parents must have mentioned to him, perhaps to instill the ideas of virtue or vice in his brain. The speaker wonders whether the day of his learning this from his text book could be day he bade good bye to his childhood.

2nd stanza .. This stanza starts with the usual poser, “When did my childhood go?” As he grew up, his parents must have been a little stern with him demanding discipline, responsibility, and self-dependence. The parents would have stopped fawning over him. It was a day in which he got to know that elders might speak about love, but they could be rude and demanding too. The speaker wonders if this could be day his childhood ended.

3rd stanza … Same question here also. As he grew up, he developed the capacity to discern, analyze, and come to his own conclusion. He could form his own opinion and stick to it. As a child, he could hardly think analytically about anything. So, he wonders, if this was the turning point when his childhood vanished.

4th stanza .. While concluding, he reminisces about the childhood days long gone. He did no longer have the sweet innocent face of a child. Nor does he quite remember what all had happened in his young days. He knows those days can’t return. He is resigned to this sense of loss.

Q1.  Describe the way the poet’s life changed as he progressed from being a young child to a pre-adolescent boy.

Answer ..The poet has become thoughtful thinking about his very pleasant childhood days that are long gone. The change has come about so seamlessly, gradually, and uneventfully. This slow change in the way his elders treat him, and the way his teachers taught him leaves the poet clueless about when and how the changes happened. In the early childhood, he was constantly told that good conduct gives access to Heaven, and bad conduct condemns a person to Hell. But, the Geography teachers in school banished this notion from his head, and told him that the earth was a sphere. In the second stage, the attitude of the parents changed from coddling to coercing to teach discipline, and responsibility. The poet wonders if this marked the end of his childhood.  

After some time, the poet begins to decipher many things he sees, forms an opinion, learn to affirm his stand, and assert himself. He begins to sense the changes happening to him, but still pines for his innocent childhood days that appear to have gone for ever.

Soon, his facial expression changes too. He looks matured and masculine, but again laments the loss of his childhood. The sweet memories of those days still haunt him.

Q2. Why do you think the poet still is not reconciled to the loss of his childhood? 

Answer.. Early childhood is the sweetest period in one’s life.In this phase of life, the child is bestowed with limitless love. Elders forgive him for all his naughtiness. In fact, he gets more love for his mischief. There is no study, no routine, and no angry reprimand. The whole community fawns over a young child. Parents vie with one another in showering their affection on the child. Such a period has left a permanent impression on the poet’s mind. So, he craves for it long after he has outgrown the phase.

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