The Hunchback in the Park File

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
• 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
• The children are full of energy and innocence
yet they are cruel to the hunchback
The poem’s structure
• The stanzas are ordered according to their line
length, the number of lines and the rhyme
• 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
• 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’

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