Poetry Notes - Mrs-claassen.co.za


Poetry Notes - Mrs-claassen.co.za


By Shabbir Banoonbhai


you cannot know the fears i have This poem is written by a parent about his child. It details his feelings

as i think about you

(hopes and fears) for his unborn child.

i fear that i shall live only at your laughter He wants so much for his child to be happy and full of laughter that he fears

he will not be able to cope when his child faces sadness.

lie awake long nights while you sleep This desire for his child to be happy will cause him to lie awake at night and

so loneliness does not trouble you

nor hunger, nor thirst

worry. He wants to be on hand just in case his child wakes up and needs

him. He also wants to make productive use of this time to write so that he

can provide an income for his child.

overwhelm your waking world with wonder If you want your child to be smart, you need to provide lots of mental

stimulation when the child is small. This is what the poet wants to do for his

child. Overwhelm = provide lots of. Waking world = when the child is

with the music of other worlds, your earlier


awake. Wonder = mental stimulation.

He will achieve this through music. This music should not be limited to

whatever is playing on the radio. It should reflect diverse cultures (“other


read to you poems written the night before He will also mentally stimulate his child by reading him / her poetry, even if

while you smile bewildered

the child doesn’t understand it. Bewildered = puzzled / uncertain.

or just when my very breathing begins to

depend on you

even as your tiny fingers close around mine

some insensitive thing

crushes your butterfly spirit

Remember the beginning of the poem. It’s talking about the fears that he

has for his child. This is one of his fears: He fears that some insensitive

person will hurt his child emotionally (“crushes your butterfly spirit”). This is

distressing to him because he has bonded with his child and become so

very close to him / her (“my very breathing begins to depend on you”), that

he feels his child’s pain. When his child hurts, so does he.

shadows of a sun-darkened land The “shadows” are sinister threats that come from a flawed / damaged

flow over you

and the eclipse

closes your eyes

i cannot live with the thought of having you,

loving you

any other way

A day without such care

has no meaning

system of government in the land (“sun-darkened land”). His child will not

escape these sinister threats (“flow over you”), and these forces may

deprive (“closes your eyes”) his child of certain opportunities (“eclipse”). An

eclipse is when the moon crosses in front of the sun, temporarily turning

light into darkness.

People who are afraid of getting hurt protect themselves by closing

themselves off to love. They become emotionally hard. Even though the

poet understands that loving his child in this intense way will cause him

pain, he is not prepared to protect himself by distancing himself from his

child, or loving him / her less. To him, that would be meaningless.

we shall find for you a name Your name is very significant because it represents you. The poet wants to

your name shall bring light

find the right name for his child. The meaning of this name should express

the positive attributes he hopes his child will possess.

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