The School Boy, Class 8 English Honeydew Book Poem 5 Explanation, Summary, Difficult word

The School Boy Class 8 English Honeydew Book Poem 5 – Detailed explanation of the poem along with meanings of difficult words and literary devices used in the poem. Given here is the complete explanation of the Poems, along with summary. All the exercises and Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson


 

Class 8 English (Honeydew Book) Poem 5 – The School Boy

By William Blake

 

poem 5 the school boy

 

The School Boy- Introduction

 

The poem “The School Boy” by Wiliam Blake tells us with the sorrow and dismay of a young boy who dislikes going to school every morning. He expresses his displeasure by comparing his situation to that of a caged bird and flower that is withered at its early stage. Although he is well-aware about the importance of learning and is willing to gain knowledge, his only problem is with the restricted and dull environment schools provide, that robs little children like him of all the joy and happiness.    

 

The School Boy- Summary

 

The poem begins with the school boy telling us how he loves to wake up on a summer morning. He loves how birds sing in the morning. He feels as if the skylark is singing with him. He goes on to tell the readers that he does not like going to school every morning. He does not like how children in school are always under constant surveillance of the teachers. The children spend their day in sighing and dismay. He shares how at times he sits lazily waiting unhappily for hours for school to end. He expresses how he is unable to take pleasure in the knowledge the book has to offer nor is he able to concentrate in the environment the school has to offer. This is because the education system is dull, repetitive and has many limitations. He then compares himself and other children like him with a caged bird. He says just like a bird can’t be happy and joyful in a cage, similarly, a child can not be happy in a restrictive environment and forget about the joy and spirit their age has to offer. He also tries to converse with his parents by comparing his situation with a bud that is nipped. He mentions that if the buds are nipped and the flowers are blown away in the spring season, when they are actually supposed to flourish, they would bear no fruits when summer arrives. Just like this flower, if children will be robbed of their youthful spirit when they are at this stage of development, it will only leave them in sorrow and dismay.

 

The School Boy- Poem and Explanation

 

I love to rise in a summer morn, 

When the birds sing on every tree; 

The distant huntsman winds his horn, 

And the skylark sings with me. 

O! what sweet company.

Morn- literary term for morning

Winds- (here) plays

Skylark- a common Eurasian and North African lark of farmland and open country, noted for its prolonged song given in hovering flight

In this stanza, he expresses his delight of waking up  on a summer morning. 

The school boy loves to get up on a summer morning when the birds enlighten it with their singing. One can find the birds on every tree on a sunday morning as they sing. The boy loves the sound of the huntsman’s horn when he is on his way to hunting. He feels as if on a summer morning, the skylark accompanies him to sing along. 

 

But to go to school in a summer morn, 

O! it drives all joy away; 

Under a cruel eye outworn, 

The little ones spend the day, 

In sighing and dismay.

Sighing- emit a long, deep audible breath expressing sadness, relief, tiredness 

Dismay- distress

In this stanza, the school boy shares the displeasure of having to attend school every morning. The tone is entirely different from the one in the first stanza.

The school boy says that having to go to school every morning in summers robs them of all the joy and happiness. In school, they are constantly under the watch of their teacher which he feels is “cruel” as it takes their freedom away. He mentions that little children spend their day in school being unhappy and distressed. 

 

Ah! then at times I drooping sit, 

And spend many an anxious hour. 

Nor in my book can I take delight, 

Nor sit in learning’s bower, 

Worn thro’ with the dreary shower.

Drooping- bend 

Learning’s bower- a place where someone comes to learn 

Worn- very tired

Thro’- non-standard spelling of through

Dreary shower- depressingly dull or repetitive

The young boy continues sharing his displeasure of having to attend school. He shares how he sits lazily in his chair spending hours waiting in distress for the school to get over. He expresses how he is unable to take pleasure in the knowledge that the book has to impart or of the learning environment. He has said the learning’ bower (school) is ineffective as it is “worn thro’ with the dreary shower” which means that the education system is dull, tiring, repetitive and meaningless.

 

How can the bird that is born for joy, 

Sit in a cage and sing. 

How can a child when fears annoy, 

But droop his tender wing, 

And forget his youthful spring. 

Tender- soft

In the fourth stanza, he compares himself and other students like him to a caged bird. When a bird that is meant to be free and joyful is put in a cage, becomes distressed. A bird would not be able to sing or enjoy in a cage or be its best self like it would do otherwise. Thus, on the same grounds he asks the readers a rhetorical question: how can a child bloom in a stressful and caged environment like the one provided by schools. He calls himself “the bird” and schools “a cage”. 

He is aware that they must study and education is a necessity but his complaint is about the closed environment that constantly monitors them and robs them of their ability to learn and express freely.

 

When put in a cage, the birds don’t flatter their wings and they tend to forget their “youthful spring”. Similarly,  he asks how a child can mould himself/herself into forgetting their spirit, joy and happiness that comes with their age and be creative in an environment like that.

 

O! Father and Mother, if buds are nip’d, 

And blossoms blown away, 

And if the tender plants are strip’d 

Of their joy in the springing day, 

By sorrow and cares dismay, How shall the summer arise in joy, 

Or the summer fruits appear? 

Nip’d- Nipped; ‘to nip something in the bud’ is to stop or destroy it at an early stage of its development

Strip’d- stripped; (here) robbed

In this stanza, the school boy turns to his parents and is in a conversation with them. Here, he compares himself (and children like him) to “buds” that are being “nipped” which means that by being forced to learn in a restrictive environment, the child’s development is being hindered with, at a very early stage. 

 

He says that if buds are nipped and their blossoms (flowers) are blown away during spring season (that marks the foundation of their growth), how will fruits appear in the summer season. Similarly, when a child is being robbed of his joy and freedom to express at his/her development stage (spring season), he will only be left with “sorrow and dismay” when he grows up (summer season), that is, no fruit will bear by the way in which they are being forced to attend school.  

 

The School Boy- Rhyme Scheme

 

The rhyme scheme of the poem is ababb.

 

The School Boy- Literary Devices

 

  1. Alliteration – The repetition of a consonant sound at the beginning of two or more consecutive words is called Alliteration. For example – skylark sings, blossoms blown.
  2. Repetition – the repeated use of a word or sentence to lay emphasis on it is called repetition. For example ‘summer morn’ has been repeated to emphasize that it was a hot summer day.

 

The School Boy- Question and Answers

 

Working with the Poem

1.Find three or four words/phrases in stanza 1 that reflect the child’s happiness and joy. 

A. The words and phrases that the reflect the child’s happiness and joy are “I love to rise in a summer morn”,”the skylark sings with me” and “O! what sweet company”.

 

2. In stanza 2, the mood changes. Which words/phrases reflect the changed mood? 

A. The words or phrases that reflect the change of mood and tone in stanza 2 are “drives all joy away”, “cruel eye outworn” and “In sighing and dismay.”

 

3. ‘A cruel eye outworn’ (stanza 2) refers to 

(i) the classroom which is shabby/noisy. 

(ii) the lessons which are difficult/uninteresting. 

(iii) the dull/uninspiring life at school with lots of work and no play. 

Mark the answer that you consider right. 

A. ‘A cruel eye outworn’ (stanza 2) refers to 

(iii) the dull/uninspiring life at school with lots of work and no play. 

 

4. ‘Nor sit in learning’s bower worn thro’ with the dreary shower’ Which of the following is a close paraphrase of the lines above? 

(i) Nor can I sit in a roofless classroom when it is raining. 

(ii) Nor can I learn anything at school though teachers go on lecturing and explaining. 

(iii) Nor can I sit in the school garden for fear of getting wet in the rain.

A. (ii) Nor can I learn anything at school though teachers go on lecturing and explaining.