Analysing Mervyn Morris - Little Boy Crying

'(A) quick slap struck' causes the child to learn, in Mervyn Morris' Little Boy Crying. The first few lines refer to a sudden change caused by a father's strictness. He refers to the change scientifically with, 'His laughter metamorphosed into howls.' 'Metamorphosed ' here refers to this as a biological process, and implied its almost inevitable nature, just as a part of life, a necessary change. This has the effect of evoking in the reader a memory of such occasions in their own life, even to the extent of invoking a sense of pathos with the child, as a painful necessary experience, from which growth originates. Morris further intensifies the rapidity of the transformation with, 'your frame so recently relaxed, now tight'. The use of the phrase 'recently relaxed', through the lengthy sound of the words implies a loosened 'frame', because the long vowel sounds in both words, cause an association with a a state of repose. Morris sharply contradicts this in the following phrase, 'now tight'. These two very short sounding, quickly spoken words serve to negate the effect of 'recently relaxed'. The short sounds and the meaning of the word 'tight', now cause the reader to associate this with rigidity and tension. The sudden change in sound and meaning therefore serves to emphasise, the rapid change, that the child is unable to understand. Morris quickly uses an ironic phrase in the next line with, 'With three year old frustration'. The irony comes from the association of frustration with work and the life of a middle-aged adult. The irony serves to lessen the effect of the rapid change that has troubled our character. We are led, in the following enjamberment effected phrase 'your bright swimming tears', further showing the unpreparedness of the three-year-old for the 'Quick slap struck', which Mervyn Morris later describes with the aid of aliteration and monosyllabic language, that has the effect of enhancing the swiftness of the blow. The poet then uses structuralism and fictional reference to amplify the differences between the world views of the boy and his father. In 'The ogre towers above you, that grim giant' The use of thwe word 'you', puts the reader in the shoes of the boy, invoking memories and possibly a slight pathos. 'The ogre' is quite obviously a reference to fairy tales, implying that these are the only means by which the boy can compare the world and the only metaphors with which expression is made possible. This is further amplified by the phrase 'grim giant', another reference to fairy tale antagonists that the boy imports into his thinking. The use of structuralism is evident in, 'towers above you', 'empty of feeling', 'tree he's scrambling down' and 'plotting deeper pits'. Each of these phrases makes references to height and depth, effect an association in the readers mind of the vantage point of the child. The enjamberment and stanza separation after reference to 'plotting deeper pits to trap him in' creates space in the reader's mind in which this imagination can be carried out. This also emphasises the child's separation from the father both spatially and emotionally as expressed in the momentary doubt presented by yet another piece of language use that is effective in conveying the state of the child mind in the words 'You hate him, you

imagine/Chopping clean the tree he's scrambling down' The enjamberment at imagine has the effect of focussing attention of the reader on you imagine which causes a certain degree of uncertainty in the boy's mind as to whether he actually hates the father. Momentarily the reader is presented with the idea that this hate maybe both premature and temporary. The words easy tears in the next stanza serve to propogate the effect of the first stanza's description of the boy's tears as in 'swimming tears splashing your bare feet' The consonance of S in both cases serves to emphasise the easy flow of th words as they flow into one another, emulating a flow of water. Morris then sharply contradicts the water in 'easy tears' with burning heat in the hard sound of 'scald', in addition to its meaning of burning pain. Therefore, I think Morris is trying to actuate the idea of a immense love behind the father, that is partially causing this 'quick slap struck', a phrase that I think epitomises the father's love. The final comparison of 'rain' to the child's tears and 'plaything' to the 'piggy back or bullfight' with which the father wishes to 'curb your(the boy's) sadness'. Morris masterfully puts across the idea of learning from negative experiences by putting it in terms of a child's experiences. The use of childish language is explanatory even to the 21st century adult, that the 'rain', an allusion to negative experiences, must not be merely be made willfully ignorant of metaphorised by a 'plaything'. We must not cast aside negativities of life, but grow. Not spoil the lessons we should learn.

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