Thursday, September 7th, 2017...7:17 pmAliya Nichols

10 Things I Noticed About the “Stolen Child”

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  1. The words “leafy island, herons, water rats, berries, moonlight, bubbles, hills” makes the setting of the far off land sound like a tropical island. These words imply that on the leafy island there is an unspoken respect for nature. Everyday there would be a focus on nature which would allow the child to escape reality.
  2. The author uses personification in the line “ferns that drop their tears over young streams.” This supports the previous point that the author has a special connection with the nature on the island. It is implied that the island is a place to escape the “weeping” of the real world and focus on nature. The focus of the island to appreciate the nature that surrounds them.
  3. When the narrator is convincing the child to escape to the island, he says “[he won’t hear any more] calves on the warm hillside… [or] kettle [and won’t] see the brown mice bob” (Yeats). The “calves, kettle, hillside and mice” represent a country like feel. The narrator is asking the child to leave the country to live in the wild.
  4. This is a prominent binary throughout the poem, country versus wild. According to the author, the country is “full of weeping” but the wild allows one to connect with nature. The country has real world problems in it and is full of pain but in the wild life is relaxing and peaceful.
  5. The word “stolen” is only used once throughout the entirety of the poem. I found this to be interesting because the word was aimed at food instead of the child. The word in the title versus the word in the poem set up two different tones for the poem. The title alludes that there may or may not be a kidnapping while “reddest stolen cherries” implies that food on the “leafy island” is scarce.
  6. In big picture terms, bringing a child to an island to escape the real world is not a respectable act. Growing up is an essential part of life that is not pleasant but is necessary to be self sustaining. The moral of the poem is that a child will never have to grow up if they escape to the “leafy island.” The island is a scapegoat to the hardships of the real world. Convincing a child to leave civilization “[since] the world’s more full of weeping than [the child] can understand” is taking away the child’s chance of growing up to be an emotionally mature adult.
  7. Throughout the poem, the author repeats the phrase “for the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.” This phrase can be addressed to the child who has yet to have grown up or the author himself who wishes he did not grow up. The author is not happy with how the world works and all the “weeping” and sadness that contributes to it.  
  8. The only food mentioned in the poem was “trout…. [and] berries.” This makes the narrator’s plan to take the child to an island sound irrational. The lack of food and nutrition that the child would inquire on an island would be far worse than having the face the “weeping” of the world.
  9. The phrase “while the world is full of troubles and anxious in its sleep” sounds like the narrator is portraying that he has anxiety and insomnia. Anxiety during sleep is something that makes the narrator dislike the real world. It is what the narrator wants the child to be able to escape from. The narrator is assuming that the child will acquire the same anxiety of the world that narrator has. The narrator seems gullible because of this and his intentions for taking the child away from the real world are selfish.
  10. The “leafy island,” “slumbering trout,” “faer[ies],” and “bubbles” and setting of the island, reminds me of the movie Peter Pan. It seems impractacle to take a child to neverland where they will never have to grow up but this idea has been replicated in a movie as well as in this poem.


  • I really like your interpretive points about this poem, expounding on your observations rather than simply listing them. For instance, I never noticed the significance of the word “stolen” only being used once despite the title. I also like your observation of his use of ferns to personify crying and your Peter Pan reference. However, are “wild” and “country” really binaries? Can’t the country be wild, or aren’t they at least not mutually exclusive? In any case, you certainly draw out the surrealness of the poem and add to its intrigue with your insights.

  • I think your use of quotes in each of your observations is really helpful for the reader to notice exactly what you had noticed earlier. I think that it gives great context.

  •   Professor Seiler
    September 12th, 2017 at 12:54 am

    Aliya, good start to the blog here! I diverge from Peter’s opening point a bit: I think there’s room to *slow down* here to make your observations more concrete, before (instead of) imposing a meaning on them. For example, I don’t quite follow how you get to the poem’s concern with child development (as we understand it) or respectability. Could you say more about that, with evidence from the poem?

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