By Robin Klein
· ‘Amanda’ is a short poem composed by Robin Klein, an Australian author and poet who is better known for her works for children and ‘young adults’.
· It is a simple and short poem with a deeper meaning and wider perspective. It discusses adolescent behaviour and its complexities namely daydreaming, escapism, loneliness and gloominess in this age.
· This poem expresses the state of a teenage girl’s mind who is constantly instructed about DOs and DON’Ts by her mother.
The whole poem is divided in seven stanzas of three lines each. Stanzas 2, 4 and 6 are put in parenthesis / brackets. It signifies that the reactions, emotions and dreams of Amanda are unexpressed and closed in her heart.
· The poet conveys the message primarily for the parents and elders advising them to treat the children lovingly and win their hearts instead of giving them orders.
· Tone of the poem is sarcastic and critical as the poet conveys that the children have their individuality and self respect which should not be hurt in any case.
Summary / Synopsis
· The girl named Amanda gets irritated and hurt with constant nagging by her mother who keeps scolding her and correcting her mistakes. Her mother always gives her instructions to sit straight and not to drop her shoulders. She is reminded constantly not to bite her nails.
· The little girl Amanda keeps dreaming about freedom for herself and living life in the open, away from her home. Her mother constantly scolds her for sitting in a lethargic manner. Due to this, Amanda imagines herself as a mermaid swimming freely and drifting joyously in the light green sea. She wants to live a calm and relaxed life in the beautiful green sea and that too, alone.
· Suddenly, her mother drags Amanda out of her dreams asking her if she has completed her homework. She also reminds her to tidy her room and clean her shoes.
· Amanda loves daydreaming as she wants to run away from her reality. She imagines herself to be an orphan wandering freely, barefoot in dry mud. She imagines that there is no one to stop her from making patterns in soft dust by her soft feet. For her silence is golden and uninterrupted freedom is sweet. She loves to live a peaceful and quiet life.
· Her mother’s nagging and complaints break her daydream again. This time her mother rebukes her to eat chocolates and reminds that due to this she is getting acne and pimples. She also demands that Amanda should look at her while she is talking to her.
· This constant nagging has made her so upset that she always wants to escape from her reality and run away from her mother. Since mother tries to forbid Amanda from doing what she desires, she has another dream in which she fantasizes herself as Rapunzel, a character from a fairy tale and wants to live peacefully like her in a tower. She wishes that she will never let her hair down from the tower like Rapunzel and allow anyone to climb the tower and come inside. There, she will live alone and lead a peaceful life.
· Finally, the mother chides her for being moody and asks her not to look sad otherwise people would consider her as bad mother and blame her for the continuous nagging and correction. At the end no reaction came from Amanda, perhaps, due to bitterness, she has stopped dreaming and come back into her real world.
Rhyme Scheme of the poem
AAA, BBB, AAA, CCC, AAA, DDD, AAA
Don’t bite your nails, Amanda! – Apostrophe
Don’t bite your nails, Amanda!
Don’t hunch your shoulders, Amanda – Anaphora
Did you finish your homework, Amanda? - Alliteration
Did you tidy your room, Amanda? – Anaphora, Alliteration
There is a languid, emerald sea - Metaphor, Personification
A mermaid drifting blissfully - Assonance
I thought I told you to clean your shoes - Assonance Repetition, Alliteration
Stop that sulking at once, Amanda! – Alliteration, Assonance
Life in a tower is tranquil and rare – Alliteration, Assonance
Life in a tower is tranquil and rare – Assonance
The silence is golden, freedom is sweet- Metaphor
I am Rapunzel - Allusion
There is a languid, emerald sea - Consonance
A mermaid drifting blissfully - Allusion
The silence is golden, the freedom is sweet - Repetition
Message of the poem
The poetess has conveyed the message clearly enough that the parents need to understand their children, treat them lovingly and tenderly and develop friendship with them, especially in their growing years. The tender heart of young adults should be touched with love and their feelings should not be hurt.
Important Question Answers
Q 1. Why are the stanzas 2, 4 and 6 are put in parenthesis?
Ans. The stanzas 2, 4 and 6 describe the reactions of Amanda to her mother's instructions and corrections. They are her feelings, desires and her dreams but they are not expressed as she doesn't speak anything to her mother. They remain unexpressed and closed in her heart that's why the poet has used parenthesis to signify these unexpressed and hidden feelings and desires.
Q 2. Do you think Amanda is sulking and is moody?
Ans. I think Amanda is lost in her daydream and is living in her imaginary world. Since she is not paying attention to her mother, she thinks that she is moody. The mother realises her mistake as she has been giving her constant reminders and her constant nagging. But, she doesn't want to take the blame that's why she asks Amanda not to sulk or feel bad. In fact Amanda is not sulking nor she is moody. She was daydreaming and lost in her beautiful imaginary world as she wanted to avoid her mother.
Q1. Read the following extracts carefully and answer the questions that follow.
“Don’t bite your nails, Amanda!
Don’t hunch your shoulders, Amanda!
Stop that slouching and sit up straight,
(a) Amanda is getting
instructions for what purpose?
(b) Give a synonym of ‘hunch’.
(c) What does the speaker of above lines instruct Amanda in the first stanza?
(d) What is the literary device used in the third line?
“There is a languid, emerald sea,
where the sole inhabitant is me
a mermaid drifting blissfully.”
(a) Why are these lines given within brackets?
(b) Give the word from the passage which means free flowing act of going with the motion and force?
(c) What is the role of mermaid here? (d) Which word in the extract means opposite of ‘sorrowful’? (e) What is the mood of Amanda here? (f) Pick out a poetic device in first line.
(a) Amanda is getting instructions as a part of her upbringing. Her conduct and manners are getting refined for future purposes.
(c) Amanda is getting instructed for not biting her nails and not sitting lazily with her shoulders bent as these actions will spoil her personality and hinder her growth.
(d) Literary device used in third line is Alliteration. ‘Stop that slouching and sit up straight’.
(a) These lines are given within brackets because they reveal the inner thoughts of Amanda which she prefers not to express. Brackets are used for visual contrast between what Amanda is thinking and what her mother is instructing.
(b) The word 'Drifting' means free flowing act of going with the motion.
(c) Mermaid is a part of Amanda’s fantasy in her own dreamy world. As mermaid sails in a sea carelessly and effortlessly, similarly Amanda longs to do so in a place where she is all by herself. Evidently she wants live in a world of fantasy, away from reality.
(d) 'Blissfully' is opposite of sorrowful.
(e) Amanda is a moody girl and right now she is not in mood of doing anything. She acts like a rebel whose thoughts and desires are not expressed.
(f) Metaphor (emerald sea)