Juxtaposition of ‘Little Boy Crying’ by Mervyn Morris and ‘The Toys’ by Coventry Patmore

My Literature tutor said that this is the best work I’ve written so far. I would love to share this with you. It lacks the conclusion though.

Compare and Contrast the following poems. Poem (a) Little Boy Crying is by Mervyn Morris. Poem (b) The Toys is by Coventry Patmore.

Consider ways in which each poet presents a father’s perspective and feelings after having punished a child. What similarities and differences are there in terms of language, style and imagery.

Little Boy Crying by Mervyn Morris

Your mouth contorting in brief spite and
Hurt, your laughter metamorphosed into howls,
Your frame so recently relaxed now tight
With three-year-old frustration, your bright eyes
Swimming tears, splashing your bare feet,
You stand there angling for a moment’s hint
Of guilt or sorrow for the quick slap struck.

The ogre towers above you, that grim giant,
Empty of feeling, a colossal cruel,
Soon victim of the tale’s conclusion, dead

At last. You hate him, you imagine
Chopping clean the tree he’s scrambling down
Or plotting deeper pits to trap him in.

You cannot understand, not yet,
The hurt your easy tears can scald him with,
Nor guess the wavering hidden behind that mask.
This fierce man longs to lift you, curb your sadness
With piggy-back or bull-fight, anything,
But dare not ruin the lessons you should learn.

You must not make a plaything of the rain.

The Toys by Coventry Patmore

My little Son, who look’d from thoughtful eyes
And moved and spoke in quiet grown-up wise,
Having my law the seventh time disobey’d,
I struck him, and dismiss’d
With hard words and unkiss’d,
—His Mother, who was patient, being dead.
Then, fearing lest his grief should hinder sleep,
I visited his bed,
But found him slumbering deep,
With darken’d eyelids, and their lashes yet
From his late sobbing wet.
And I, with moan,
Kissing away his tears, left others of my own;
For, on a table drawn beside his head,
He had put, within his reach,
A box of counters and a red-vein’d stone,
A piece of glass abraded by the beach,
And six or seven shells,
A bottle with bluebells,
And two French copper coins, ranged there with careful art,
To comfort his sad heart.
So when that night I pray’d
To God, I wept, and said:
Ah, when at last we lie with trancèd breath,
Not vexing Thee in death,
And Thou rememberest of what toys
We made our joys,
How weakly understood
Thy great commanded good,
Then, fatherly not less
Than I whom Thou hast moulded from the clay,
Thou’lt leave Thy wrath, and say,
‘I will be sorry for their childishness.’

Poem A, Little Boy Crying, and Poem B, The Toys, has the same theme of Parenting. The subject matter in Poem A is about the father slapping the child for playing in the rain while the subject matter in poem B is about the father punishing the child for disobeying him for the seventh time. Both personas  made use of imagery to bring across their feelings and perspective. Poem A has a tone that shows strictness and some harshness which express how the father feels the need to punish the child while in Poem B, the tone is more sorrowful and full of guilt which explain how guilty the father feels, punishing the child.

Poem A shows that the father feels the need to do his job which is ‘Parenting’ and punish the child when he did something wrong so that he can learn his lesson. This can be seen from the description of the child of being a little spiteful and the father giving him “the quick slap” for playing in the rain. The diction used such as “splashing” and “swimming” is somehow connected to the rain, giving relation to the child’s ‘crime’. “But dare not ruin the the lessons you should learn” shows how determined the father is in teaching his son. The last stanza indicates that the father does not want his child to play in the rain again. The last stanza stands alone because it is trying to stress on the lesson that the child “must” learn.

However, in Poem B, the theme of ‘Parenting’, shows a different perspective. The father is guilty of punishing his child. Perhaps, this can be seen from the child, “who look’d from thoughtful eyes /And moved and spoke in quiet grown-up wise.” It might explain the father’s feeling as the child is “wise” when compared to the child in Poem A who is described to be “in brief spite”. “His mother who was patient, being dead” shows the child lack motherly love. This might explain why the child is defiance. The description of the toys in Poem B indicates that they are poor because those toys are free and not bought. The child depends on such ‘worthless’ items to “comfort his sad heart”. It shows that the child really lacks a lot of things and had a difficult life to depend on such toys to comfort him. This might also explain the father’s sorrow and guilt when he “struck him, and dismiss’d / With hard words and unkiss’d.” The father feels that the child does not deserve to be punished as he went through a hard life. The father prayed to god, ” I will be sorry for their childishness” indicates that the father really wants to forgive his child for his mistake like how god has “leave Thy wrath” and forgive men.

Both poems are similar in a sense that both personas find the difficulties in ‘Parenting.’ Despite the fact that the persona in Poem a wants his child to learn his lesson, he also feels the pain of needing to punish his child. the child’s “easy tears can scald him”, “the wavering hidden behind the mask” shows that he is upset. The father, “longs to lift you, curb your sadness/ With piggy-back or bull-fight, anything” shows the intense love he had for his child and he would do anything to make him happy. He feels that the child need to learn his lesson even when it kills him to do so. This can also be seen in Poem B. In poem B, the father’s feeling of sorrow is quite vivid when he punished the child even when having his “law the seventh time disobey’d.” The father. “moan/ Kissing away his tears, left others of my own” when he saw the child’s ” late sobbing wet.” It shows how hurtful he is when he punish the child. Both poems show how complex ‘Parenting’ is.


Hope this helps… I look forward for your feedback. 🙂

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One Response to Juxtaposition of ‘Little Boy Crying’ by Mervyn Morris and ‘The Toys’ by Coventry Patmore

  1. RT says:

    Thanks this really helped 🙂

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