the hunchback in the park n.
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The Hunchback in the Park. In this poem…. The poet describes a day in the life of a hunchback in a park where he is teased by truant boys from the town There is no punctuation other than 3 full stops – so we get a fast and whirling picture of what is happening which creates confusion.

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in this poem
In this poem…
  • The poet describes a day in the life of a hunchback in a park where he is teased by truant boys from the town
  • There is no punctuation other than 3 full stops – so we get a fast and whirling picture of what is happening which creates confusion
stanza one
Stanza One

The hunchback in the park

A solitary mister

Propped between trees and water

From the opening of the garden lock

That lets the trees and water enter

Until the Sunday sombre bell at dark

The hunchback seems lonely and is isolated from normal society by his unusual appearance. He spends all day in the park from the moment the gate is unlocked until the bell at night.

stanza two
Stanza Two

Eating bread from a newspaper

Drinking water from the chained cup

That the children filled with gravel

In the fountain basin where I sailed my ship

Slept at night in a dog kennel

But nobody chained him up.

the hunchback lives an unorthodox life – he eats bread out of a newspaper and drinks from a cup chained up – but some children have filled it with gravel

stanza three
Stanza Three

Using a simile, the poet compares the hunchback to the birds – this may imply he is free like them

Like the park birds he came early

Like the water he sat down

And Mister they called Hey Mister

The truant boys from the town

Running when he had heard them clearly

On out of sound

Soon boys skiving from school arrive and shout at him

stanza four
Stanza Four

Past lake and rockery

Laughing when he shook his paper

Hunchbacked in mockery

Through the loud zoo of the willow groves

Dodging the park keeper

With his stick that picked up leaves.

The boys taunt him and the metaphor ‘hunchbacked in mockery’ shows how he physically tries to hide from them

stanza five
Stanza Five

And the old dog sleeper

Alone between nurses and swans

While the boys among willows

Made the tigers jump out of their eyes

To roar on the rockery stones

And the groves were blue with sailors

And the old dog sleeper

Alone between nurses and swans

While the boys among willows

Made the tigers jump out of their eyes

To roar on the rockery stones

And the groves were blue with sailors

The boys have fantasies – they make ‘tigers jump out of their eyes’ – they imagine they are in a zoo and imagine that there are sailors there.

stanza six
Stanza Six

Made all day until bell time

A woman figure without fault

Straight as a young elm

Straight and tall from his crooked bones

That she might stand in the night

After the locks and chains

The hunchback imagines a woman in the park

stanza seven
Stanza Seven

All night in the unmade park

After the railings and shrubberies

The birds the grass the trees the lake

And the wild boys innocent as strawberries

Had followed the hunchback

To his kennel in the dark.

things to note
Things to note
  • The hunchback and the boys are contrasted throughout the poem. They are loud, he is quiet. They are young, he is old. They are filled with movement and life, he is still and static.
  • The children are full of energy and innocence yet they are cruel to the hunchback
the poem s structure
The poem’s structure
  • The stanzas are ordered according to their line length, the number of lines and the rhyme scheme
  • Half rhyme or rhyme is used consistently – the regularity of this suggests that what happens in the poem is and everyday occurrence.
  • The speed of the poem suggests the energy of the boys
additionally
Additionally…
  • The poem is full of descriptions of nature
  • The trees, lake and grass are all personified
  • The park is a very special place – it is full of nature and therefore not part of civilisation – it is a place for imagination
  • The poem presents outsiders in a sympathetic light – like ‘Clown Punk’