Poem Analysis: Little Boy Crying by Mervyn Morris

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What is the main theme of the poem 'Little Boy Crying'?

Parent-child relationship

Who wrote the poem 'Little Boy Crying'?

Mervyn Morris

The poem uses the allusion of the ogre and the giant to portray the father as a caring and understanding figure.


Study Notes

Context and Background

  • Stephen Spender was a British poet, born in London on February 28, 1909.
  • He was educated at University College School in London and University College, Oxford, but did not complete his degree.
  • Spender's poetry often addressed themes of social justice, personal integrity, and the horrors of war.
  • He was interested in themes of social justice and class struggle, which reflected in his poems.
  • Spender had a disability of a clubfoot and a stammer, which affected him deeply and made him resentful of his parents.

Poem Information

  • The poem "Little Boy Crying" is written by Mervyn Morris.
  • The poem is in free verse, divided into four stanzas of varying lengths.
  • The poem explores the theme of love involving discipline and the pain of punishing a loved one.

Poem Structure and Analysis

  • The first stanza describes the child's reaction to being slapped, with the child's laughter turning into howls.
  • The second stanza shows the father imagining how the child sees him as a cruel giant.
  • The third stanza reveals the father's hurt and desire to lift the child up and play with him, but he must remain firm and teach a lesson.
  • The final stanza concludes with the lesson not to play in the rain.

Poetic Devices

  • Hyperbole is used to emphasize the child's frustration and the father's size.
  • Alliteration is used to create a musical quality in the poem.
  • Allusion is made to the fairy tale "Jack and the Beanstalk," where the child sees the father as a grim giant.
  • Contrast is used to show the child's perception of the father as cruel and the father's actual pain and love.
  • Irony is used to highlight the child's misunderstanding of the father's motivations.
  • Metaphors are used to compare the child's laughter to howls, the child's attempt to elicit sympathy to angling for fish, and the father's size and power to an ogre or giant.


  • Love and family relationships
  • Innocence
  • Regret
  • Parent-child relationships
  • Childhood experiences
  • Parenting
  • Flogging/discipline/corporal punishment

Quiz on the poem Little Boy Crying by Mervyn Morris, covering the context, poet biography, poetic devices, and their effectiveness.

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