‘My Parents’ Poetry Questions

  1. Who do you think the ‘rough boys’ were?
  2. Which of the activities of the rough children do you think Stephen envied?
  3. Which of the activities hurt him:
    1. Physically
    2. Emotionally
  4. What clues can you find in the poem that suggest that the rough children were healthy?
  5. What you understand by “ourworld” in line 11. Briefly state how it would differ from the world of the rough boys.
  6. What hint is there of the author’s religious upbringing?
  7. Why did it fail him in practice?
  8. Do you think his parents were right in their attitude to the rough children? Give reasons for your answer.
  9. What do you think is meant by:
    1. Threw like words like stones
    2. Stripped by country streams
    3. Salt coarse pointing
  10. What word in verse 3 suggests that the author’s real feelings were being controlled?
  11. Suggest a title for the poem that sums up its theme.


An African Thunderstorm Questions- CSEME PRO

  1. Identify the two similes used in stanza 1.

    2. Why are the clouds described as “pregnant” in stanza 2?

    3. Comment on the use of the word “stately” in line 10.

    4. Quote two consecutive words in stanza 2 that suggest that the thunderstorm might be dangerous.

    5. Explain why this thunderstorm might not be as welcome to the villagers.

    6. In line 24, alliteration is used. Write down the line and indicate the alliteration and also comment on its effectiveness.

Little Boy Crying by Mervyn Morris

Stanza 1
The poem begins with a description of a child crying. However, his cries seem harsh and fierce “Your laughter metamorphosed into howl”.  This also suggests that the child is normally a happy one and something happened to have changed his happiness. The last line in the stanza informs us that the reason why the child is crying is because he has been beaten “the quick slap struck”. The little boy is also staring at the parent hoping that he might be feeling guilty for hitting him. This might mean that the child is trying to play on the parent’s emotion “you stand there angling for a moment’s hint”.

Stanza 2
It is important to note that the stanza is giving the point of view of the parent. The parent is imagining that the child is demonizing him for hitting him “The ogre towers above you, that grim giant,// empty of feeling a colossal cruel”. From this, we can understand that the parent thinks that the child believes that he is cruel and evil for hitting him and therefore is thinking of ways to overcome or get away from the parent.

 Stanza 3
Poet makes it clear that the father loves his son. However, he is slapping him for is own good. He also suggests that the father is hurt by the son’s tears and would do anything to make him stop crying. “This fierce man longs to lift you//……” Yet, the lesson must be taught. 

Stanza 4
Maybe this stanza suggests that no matter that there are often important behaviour or lessons children must learnt by children.


Parent – Child Relationship

The father seems to be firm and strict with his son. Although he loves him he does not allow him to have his own way.

Childhood Experiences

The little boy experiences pain and resentment for his parent. Unlike Ana, his childhood is not one that is carefree without any consequences for undesired behaviour.


The father tries to be a good parent. In his eyes there are some lessons that his son must learn. Therefore, he carries out physical punishment so that he can learn these lessons.

Ol’ Higue by Mark McWatt

In this poem, the Ol’ Higue / soucouyant tells of her frustration with her lifestyle. She does not like the fact that she sometimes has to parade around, in the form of a fireball, without her skin at night. She explains that she has to do this in order to scare people, as well as to acquire baby blood. She explains that she would rather acquire this blood via cooked food, like every-one else. Her worst complaint is the pain of salt, as well as having to count rice grains. She exhibits some regret for her lifestyle but implies that she cannot resist a baby’s smell, as well as it’s pure blood. The ‘newness’ of the baby tempts the Ol’ Higue, and she cannot resist because she is an old woman who fears death, which can only be avoided by consuming the baby’s blood. She affirms her usefulness in the scheme of things, however, by claiming that she provides mothers with a name for their fears (this being the death of a child), as well as some-one to blame when the evil that they wish for their child, in moments of tired frustration, is realized. She implies that she will never die, so long as women keep having babies.

Cane-fire has a very distinct quality. It burns very quickly and its presence is felt through it’s pungent smell. Therefore, when the Ol’ Higue compares herself to cane fire in her fireball state, it implies that she uses a lot of energy quickly, and is very visible. 

•Stanza 1,line 4: This rhetorical question highlights the scant regard that the Higue has for the average person. She is thoroughly annoyed that she has to literally waste her energy on them.
•Stanza 1, line 5: This highlights the fact that, again, she is annoyed that she has to expend so much energy to obtain a few drops of baby blood.
•Stanza 1, lines 6-8: The Ol’ Higue is emphasizing the fact that regular people ingest blood too, just in a more palatable manner. She would not mind if she could ingest it in the same manner as well.
•Stanza 3, lines 22-23: At this point the Ol’ Higue is making excuses for her presence, claiming that she serves an actual purpose in the scheme of life. If a child dies of unknown causes, she can be scapegoated for it.
•Stanza 3, lines 24-25: ‘The murder inside your head’ refers to the moments, when out of pure frustration and tiredness, a mother might wish ill on her child. The Ol’ Higue is implying that, again, she can be used as a scapegoat if something unfortunate happens to the child. The mother is relieved of bearing the burden of guilt.
The repetition of the word ‘soft’ emphasizes the fact that the call of the child’s blood has captured and beguiled the Ol’ Higue’. She implies that she cannot resist that call.
This device emphasizes the Ol’ Higue’s dependence, even addiction, to the sweet blood of the baby.

5. ‘stupidness!’
This is a distinctly Caribbean phrase that highlights frustration or scorn. Therefore, it highlights the Ol’ Higue’s frustration with her lack of self control.

6. ‘gallivanting’
This term refers to some one ‘playing around’, having fun. The Ol’ Higue is being sarcastic at this point. She is expressing displeasure at having to fly around to seek prey.

7. ‘pure blood running in new veins’
Babies are often associated with purity, this is what is emphasized here. The Ol’ Higue simply cannot resist the lure of new and pure blood.

8. ‘holding her final note for years and years, afraid of the dying hum …’
This tells us that the Ol’Higue has been living this desperate existence for a long time. It also implies that she will keep hanging on, despite her frustration. The final line confirms this point: ‘As long as it have women giving birth a poor Ol’ Higue like me can never dead’
The mood of the poem is reflective.
The tone of the poem is slightly bitter and resigned. She accepts that the cycle of her life cannot change.