Rumens, through the title of her poem is portraying a scene in Morocco, consisting of carpet weavers. This establishes a theme of work which runs throughout the poem. The title however, does not launch or even give a faint idea of the major theme contained in the poem, i.e. of social injustice and child labour.
The poem begins with ‘The children’, hence taking us by surprise. Nowhere in the title was anything about children expected, the natural imagery created had been of workers weaving carpets who had naturally been assumed as adults. Nevertheless, the poem starts with these gifts of God, startling us into the reality that the poem is about these intimate pure creations. The first line of this stanza implies that these children are hard at work on the ‘loom’ used to create the carpets. On the other hand it precedes the words ‘another world’, which could change the meaning aroused by ‘loom’ into that which is on the verge of, hence implying that the children were right around the corner of another world. The ‘another world’ here is denoting the difference in the life of these children to other normal children, signifying their harsh lifestyles. The word ‘loom’ can also be visibly rhymed with the word gloom, thus pointing towards the glum atmosphere of these children.
Their hair is shaped into ‘braids’ show that they have been twisted and trapped into this situation from where it is quite difficult to unravel themselves. These braids are ‘black’ and ‘oiled’. This shows that they have been seeped and covered with burdens, because of which their lives have become ‘black’, i.e. darkened and glum. Still their ‘dresses’ are ‘bright’, which points towards their childish character, implying that they may not be treated as children, but the brightness and cheerfulness of their character is still present behind all these obstructions. ‘Assorted heights’ assert that the children are of various ages. By saying that they make a ‘melodious chime’ it is signifying that when normally children of many changes accumulate together they play and their laughter creates a beautiful music. The use of the word ‘would’ however, reminds us that this is not the case here, as these kids are not given the customary freedom provided to most kids.
The second stanza replicates the feeling of pity that had been aroused during the first stanza.
The children ‘watch’ their ‘flickering knots like television’, is a simile indicating that unlike most children who watch television with apt attention, these children watch the sparkling colours of these strings going in and out of the carpet board instead. In addition the only colour and sole entertainment in their life are watching these knots coming in and out and forming magnificent designs. The ‘garden of Islam’ signifies paradise and hence peace. It is also implying that the carpets being made are the Islamic prayer mats that are usually decorated with heavenly beautiful images of paradise’s gardens. By saying that this garden is ‘growing’ the poetess is trying to ascertain that as the carpet’s design nears completion, the children will be raised to reach the higher portions of the carpet.
On the other hand it could mean that as Islam grows, the burden on the children increases In addition it could be taken in the sarcastic manner to mean that as Islam grows instead of the justice system ‘the bench’, taking the side of the children it raises their benches so that they can finish more work, thus their state never becomes better. The children after being raised ‘lace’ the ‘dark-rose veins’ of the ‘tree tops’, shows that the children still put all their efforts, colours and enjoyment of life into the carpet. The specific colour of veins as ‘dark-rose’, state their delicate nature of the children which show in their carpet designs. Lacing these designs of the ‘tree tops’ show that the children are trying to reach the tops and the canopy of the world, but instead they are forced to replicate and design these high elevations instead of physically being able to reach them.
The carpet then ‘travels’, and receives all the pleasure and comforts of travelling. The carpet is also given the luxurious treatment in the merchants ‘truck’ as the merchant needs to take care of its products. Then it is ‘spread’ by the ‘servants’, denoting the royal treatment of comfort imparted on these carpets. The words ‘deep’ and ‘soft’ signify the sensation that arises from these carpets, and point out their comforts. This all shows that only the carpet is receiving the comforts, and only the carpet is seen and felt not the children or their hard work. The fact that it ‘gives’ when ‘heaped with prayer’ indicates that the carpet is the support and receiver of all the prayers. This shows that the carpet is the basic receiver of the prayers and not the children, hence emphasizing that nothing is being done about the state of these children.
The last stanza of the poem finalizes the melancholic and serious condition of these children, who are working ‘hard’ in the ‘school of days’. This signifies that these children who should be going to school, which are the golden and fun days of our life, are in fact forced to work hard when they should be playing and studying and having fun. The poet states that ‘from their fingers the colours of all-that-will-be”, this phrase is actually emphasizing on the fact of kids being the future of the country, and the people who give colour and beauty to this harsh lifestyle. Nonetheless the use of the phrase ‘all-that-will-be’ comes to make us realize that this future is still yet to come, but the use of the caesura in between all the four words affirms the poet’s declaration that this is not possible and something is stopping this reality from occurring.
These colours of the children ‘fly’ from their fingers and try to reach the sky however, they ‘freeze’ and die into the frame of the carpet. This shows how their creativity is only limited to the carpet and the carpet alone. The phrase ‘all-that-was’ is actually a means of connectivity with the previous phrase ‘all-that-will-be’. These two phrase work together to portray two meanings. Firstly that the carpet is recording pictures of the past and things that have already happened. The other is that of marking a major contrast between the job of a child and what these children are forced to do. As the child is the future but here they are being required to remain in the past and replicate it instead of helping to create a new future.
Carol Rumens, Carpet-weavers, Morocco, consists of three stanza’s each of the same length of three verses. Written in the second form, the poem barely uses any rhyming techniques except for once in the first stanza, ‘bright’ and ‘chime’. This rhyme impresses upon children happiness and how it takes the form of brightness and happiness in the world. The poem is basically evoking the dismal and serious atmosphere surrounding these children. The themes running throughout the poem is of childhood, work, social injustice, poverty and child labour. This has been achieved magnificently through the use of clever diction.
Courtney from Study Moose
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