Childhood by Markus Natten

When did my childhood go?
Was it the day I ceased to be eleven.
Was it the time I realised that Hell and Heaven,
Could not be found in Geography,
And therefore could not be,
Was that the day!

When did my childhood go?
Was it the time I realised that adults were not
All they seemed to be,
They talked of love and preached of love,
But did not act so lovingly,
Was that the day!

When did my childhood go?
Was it when I found my mind was really mine,
To use whichever way I choose,
Producing thoughts that were not those of other people
But my own and mine alone
Was that the day!

Where did my childhood go?
It went to some forgotten place,
That is hidden in an infant’s face,
That’s all I know.

Summary

The poet Markus Natten wonders when did he lose the innocence of his childhood. He is perhaps sad that; step by step he has lost that innocence and its place has been filled by a foolish craze for individuality; the so called rationalism and the hypocrisy. Childhood is a special period in everyone’s life. Once gone, never comes back. He thinks of a few stages in his life time, when there was a change in his thoughts and perception of the world around him. The poet thinks of the place where his childhood has gone. Here, he has no doubt that he can find it hidden in the innocence of an infant.

The poet is surprised at which point of life he ceased to be a child. He asks himself if it was when he entered the twelfth year of his life or perhaps it was when he became sensible enough to realise that Hell and Heaven are not to be found in geography and so they must be fragments of imagination only.

Slowly, as the poet grew in age he found that the world of adults was different. The adults are not what they seem to be. They pretend a lot. They are hypocrites who preach love and all good things but behave in a different manner. Slowly, he too began to learn this art and lost his childhood.

Then, there came a time when the poet learnt the art of thinking independently. He learnt that his mind is his own and he should apply it to think in his own original way. In short, he learnt that a man need not always be guided in his thinking by others. May be, it was that day when he learnt to be an individual that he lost his childhood.

In the last stanzas the poet does not think of the time he lost his childhood. He wants to know the place where he has lost it and where it can be found again. He cannot remember the place. However, when he looks at a child’s face he becomes sure that the place is hidden in that innocence. Thus, the poet concludes that the loss of innocence was the loss of childhood.

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