English Language & Literature
Poem 6: Amanda
In the above poem, the poet Robin Klein says that a child should never be denied freedom. It deals with the upbringing of a small child, Amanda. It highlights the struggles faced by the child.
The poem ‘Amanda’ is about a small child whose parents are forever nagging her about what to do and what not to do. This frequent interference makes her very unhappy. She feels that she is not free to do anything that she wants to do. She wants freedom from all restrictions. She dreams to lead a life of a mermaid in a Languid, emerald sea with her being the only inhabitant there. She feels that an orphan has more freedom than her. She also wishes to lead a calm and quiet life in a tower like that of Rapunzel with nobody to disturb her.
Don’t bite your nails, Amanda !
Don’t hunch your shoulders, Amanda !
Stop that slouching and sit up straight,
Explanation: In the above stanza, Amanda is getting instructed, most probably by her mother, for not biting her nails and for sitting lazily with her shoulders bent. The tone of instruction here is not a friendly one and thus fails to make any sense to Amanda.
There is a languid, emerald sea,
where the sole inhabitant is me—
a mermaid, drifting blissfuly.
Explanation: Amanda uses her imagination as an escape point from day to day commands of her parents. She finds peace in her own created world where there are no restraints. She imagines herself to be a joyful mermaid sailing without any confines on the soft waves of the green sea.
Did you finish your homework, Amanda ?
Did you tidy your room, Amanda ?
I thought I told you to clean your shoes,
Explanation: Amanda is now being asked about whether she had finished her homework or had made her room tidy and also whether she had cleaned her shoes. These set of instructions mark a shift from the instructions given in stanza. Her name is being called again with an exclamation mark which shows that her mother seems to be losing their cool and are troubled.
I am an orphan, roaming the street.
I pattern soft dust with my hushed, bare feet.
The silence is golden, the freedom is sweet.
Explanation: Amanda is again lost into her own world. After getting a fresh list of instructions from her mother, she wishes to be away from this daily routine life. Amanda perceives herself as an orphan roaming on the streets, moving aimlessly without any purpose. She seems happy as she draws patterns using her bare feet.
Don’t eat the chocolate, Amanda !
Remember your acne, Amanda !
Will you please look at me when I’m speaking to you Amanda !
Explanation: Amanda is stopped by her mother from eating a chocolate as previously it caused her acne. Amanda is still lost in her own thoughts and doesn’t care enough to look up to her scolding mother. This carelessness further angers the mother and ask for her attention when she is being scolded.
I am Rapunzel, I have not a care;
life in a tower is tranquil and rare;
I’ll certainly never let down my bright hair!
Explanation: Amanda is still lost in her own dreams. She pictures herself to be the long golden-haired Rapunzel who lived in a castle and had no care about anything. Amanda imagines that the life of Rapunzel must have been very peaceful and fantastic in the tower. But she is unwilling to let her hair down. She only wants to live by herself as the presence of another being in her life would require her to act in a certain way. Amanda wants to live free and happy.
Stop that sulking at once, Amanda !
You’re always so moody, Amanda !
Anyone would think that I nagged at you,
Explanation: Her mother keeps instructing Amanda on the do’s and don’ts, but Amanda remains lost in her own dreams. Her mother believe that Amanda is not reacting because she is annoyed. Her behaviour has made her mother feel bad and they get worried about her image. She is concerned about how society will perceive her if her child always remains in a foul mood.
Stop that slouching and sit up straight
Stop that sulking at once, Amanda!
Mermaid (Taken from fairy tales)
Rapunzel (Taken from German fairy tales)
Languid, emerald sea
Silence is golden
Freedom is sweet