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Liitle Boy Crying

“Little Boy Crying” is a poignant poem by Mervyn Morris where he
raises/develops key ideas about parenting and the. Through the poem,
Morris narrates the agony of a father who resists the urge to apologize to his
son for disciplining him. Through the poem he illustrates the difficulty of
punishing a child even though it is for the greater good of them. In the poem
“Little Boy Crying”, Morris employs evocative diction, a pensive tone, and
structure and form to convey both remorse and love involved in the act of
Morris’ use of powerful language in the phrase “laughter metamorphosed”
vividly expresses the changes the three year old underwent after receiving
the slap. The word “metamorphosed,” gives life to the way the child's laugh
escalated into “howling”, the rapidity of the change of the boy’s facial
expression creates a very potent image of the emotions of shock, and
betrayal the boy is feeling. Powerful imagery of water is seen in the phrase
“swimming tears, splashing your bare feet,” where sibilance and
personification of the tears have been used to invoke a more dramatic sense
of the boy’s misery. The phrase “quick slap stuck,” creates a more sped up
and violent interpretation of the happenings; and the use of onomatopoeia in
“slap,” creates a more graphic scene. Both are suffering through the ordeal
of punishment: the father who has a "fierce" love for his son and the son who
is suffering because of the slap.
Morris illustrates the twinge of guilt and regret coursing through the father
through the use of a pensive tone. He uses the phrase “longs to lift you, curb
your sadness.” The contrast of emotions the farther feels for slapping his
son along with the need to discipline him adds to the poignancy of the poem.
The alliteration of “l” emphasizes his longing to pacify his child however the
father stays strong to ensure his son is raised with the correct values. The
phrase “you cannot understand” demonstrates that the child does not
acknowledge the fact that his father is teaching him a lesson. The line “The
hurt your easy tears can scald him with” sums up how the boy does not
realize the pain his display of sadness causes his father, who obviously takes
no pleasure in making his son cry.
Morris alludes to the language of fairy tales to describe the only way that a
three-year-old boy could see or understand his father's actions thus evoking
powerful imagery of hatred as well as revenge. The phrase “that grim giant”
is a metaphor for the boy’s father. It shows how the boy feels towards his
father. We see what the child feels of the father’s actions, seeing him as an
“ogre” “towering above him”, and referring to the father as “that” “grim giant”
and here as apposed to using “the “grim giant” and the use of the
demonstrative pronoun “that”, distances the child from the father. Alliteration
is used to give the image menacing figures. The alliteration is used to
emphasize the strong feelings the child feels. The harsh “G” sounds give it a
bitter tone - full of hate. The father refers to himself as “The ogre,” “grim
giant,” and “colossal cruel,” and here the use of alliteration of “g” in “grim
giant” and “c” in “colossal cruel,” places emphasis on the phrases to describe
the pure hatred the father thinks the boy must feel against him, signifying
that he knows he is being mean and understands his decisions were harsh.
This reference to a well-known fairytale increases the reader’s ability to relate
to the situation and creates a more vivid scenario.
The form and structure of the poem add to …. The title, “Little Boy Crying,”
immediately provokes a sad image of what is forthcoming in the poem,
creating an instantaneous dramatic effect. The poem is written from the voice
of the father; however, it changes perspective several times. In the first
stanza, the father is observing the reaction of his son. In the second stanza,
the father attempts to view the situation from his son’s point of view. In the
third stanza a third-person view responds to the happenings, explaining the
father’s feelings. The last stanza, a standalone line, “you must not make a
plaything of rain” brings to light the cause of the punishment and implies the
little boy has been playing in the rain. This line has several meanings such
as the misuse of tears or on another level, it could be the father instructing
himself to take his lessons more seriously and his need stay firm to show
In conclusion Morris explores the child and father’s relationship dwelling on
the feelings of the father and the perceived responses of the child to the
punishment. The poem on one level narrates the deep love of a father for his
child and his effort to teach him a valuable lesson through discipline. A
deeper message that is conveyed though the poem is the appreciation of the
love and sacrifice that parents make and the gratitude we owe them for the
life lessons taught to us.