My Parents by Stephen Spender

In Literature class, Pat told us to read a poem called »My Parents» by Stephen Spender, then to answers some question in pairs (I worked with Mora Petrella)

My Parents

My parents kept me from children who were rough
Who threw words like stones and wore torn clothes
Their thighs shone through rags. They ran in the street
And climbed cliffs and stripped by the country streams.
I feared more than tigers their muscles like iron
Their jerking hands and their knees tight on my arms
I feared the salt coarse pointing of those boys
Who copied my lisp behind me on the road.
They were lithe, they sprang out behind hedges
Like dogs to bark at my world. They threw mud
While I looked the other way, pretending to smile
I longed to forgive them but they never smiled.


Task 1.

How do you think he might felt while going to school?

-Stephen Spender had a hard foot affliction and tended to lisp while he talked. His parents, in order for him not to suffer bullying, kept him from kids with rough personalities. Moreover, some children which belonged to a lower society, bullied him due to his strange disability. This made him believe all this children were dangerous, so he didn’t get near to them. Although, at the same time he admired the strength of their bodies and the freedom they enjoyed. An ironic point is that, although Stephen Spender belonged to a really wealthy society, and his parents could afford to pay for all his necessities (such as taking care of him, and his disease), children that belonged to lower class society seemed to enjoy more life than him.

Task 2

Watch the video which analyses the poem. Take notes and publish them in your blog.

-Basing on what the video explains, we can come to the conclusion that the main topic that the writer wants to emphasize on is not his parents but given the fact that at the time poems were unnamed and later received a title basing on the first words that is how to poem is called. What Spender actually wants to focus on is the ironic bullying he suffered from boys of a lower socioeconomic class (the irony comes from how accustomed we are to it being the other way around) given his difficulty to talk. He also mentions how his parents were constantly preventing him to that sort of exposure and he felt restricted and limited, which is why he develops a sort of admiration towards the children that mistreated him; he describes them as tough, strong, mischievous, etc.

Task 3

Here a summary of each and every stanza.

-Find a quote to prove each of them.

-Find a literary device in each stanza and explain what the writer is using that device for.


Stanza 1:

literary device: Spender uses imagery to provide his perception of the boys, he detailedly describes them to express how his perspective was on poor people.


quote: “Threw words like stones and worn torn clothes” this quote exposes how Spender felt both admiration and intimidation when facing these children and how their appearances showed how poor they were.

Stanza 2:


literary device: Stephen uses simile to compare how he feared these boys as lions, and how their muscled were hard as iron. ‘’I feared more than tigers their muscles like iron’’.


quote: “I feared more than tigers their muscles like iron” this quote proves how afraid he was of the respective children since because of their economic status they probably had no choice but to take part in physical work which would strengthen their muscles that the voice could not even dream to possess.

Stanza 3:

literary device: In the third stanza, Spender uses simile to explain how he saw the kids who were always finding a chance to bully him. ‘’Like dogs to bark at my world’’, this quote express the kids as the dogs, and instead of bullying him they bark at his world.

quote: ‘’They threw mud while I looked the other way, pretending to smile longed to forgive them but they never smiled.’’

-This quote show us how although the rough kids bullied him, he tried to be nice forgiving them with smile, although they never returned it.

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