Stanza 1: The poet is curious to know when he lost his childhood. He tries to find out the answer of his own question. He feels it was perhaps that day when he discovered the theories of Heaven and Hell and that Geography did not provide him any information about the existence of such place. Education has made the poet look at the world differently with more reason and logic. The poet feels that he had probably lost his childhood when he had acquired a rational thinking towards his surroundings.
Stanza 2: In this stanza, the poet figures out that the adults around him did not practice what they usually preached. They taught others to be loving and caring when they themselves were violent and mean. This is when the child lost his trust and faith in the adults. The poet realizes that probably the loss of faith and trust might have been the major steps towards losing his childhood.
Stanza 3: The poet while growing up realizes that his mind is powerful and it takes its own decisions. His own opinions and thoughts have earned him individuality free from the biased notions of others. This is when he thinks that his individuality and experiences have taken away the childhood from him.
Stanza 4: Finally, in the ending stanza of the poem, “Childhood”, the poet changes his question from ‘when’ to ‘where’ he has lost his childhood. The answer is an easy one. Markus Natten says that his childhood has gone hiding into some forgotten place. It can be found in an infant’s face. The last lines can be interpreted as that the childhood is a lost memory. We recall the fantasies and the moments associated with it but at the same time, the innocence and the childhood are irrevocably lost.
The poem, “Childhood” focuses on the theme of the loss of innocence. Markus Natten, the poet wonders when and where he lost his childhood. He ponders over this question and highlights the loss of innocence and faith in the quest of growing up. Adolescence or childhood is a puzzling time when a child is unable to settle with the physical, psychological and other changes in his personality. He becomes a ‘young adult’; he neither wants to call himself a child nor is he completely an adult. He finally finds his answers that he lost his childhood to some forgotten place and that his childhood has become a memory.
The repetition of the lines usually at the end or the beginning of the poem is called the ‘refrain.’ Refrains carries the central message of the poem. Here, the lines “When did my childhood go?” and “was that day” are examples of refrain. The first refrain is the central theme of the poem as to when have the poet lost his childhood while the second refrain ends with an exclamation which brings out the poet’s realization.
|Questions & Answers|
- Why does the poet think that he had lost his childhood?
Ans. 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?
Ans. 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?
Ans. 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?
Ans. 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 centre of everything.
- What misunderstandings did the poet have about adults till he became one?
Ans. 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?
Ans. 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.
Ans. Adults talk too much about love and almost every aspect of the adult life is closely connected with love. 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?
Ans. 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 behaviour and new concepts of growth.
- Where does the poet find his lost childhood? How can he get it back?
Ans. The poet, a specimen of the counterfeit personality, finds his lost childhood on the face of a child. Hecan get it back only when he commits to be child again, forgetting the complex adult concepts and pseudo maturity perceptions.