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For 2024 Board Exam
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Childhood by Markus Natten | English | Class 11

Lesson Architecture

  • Theme

  • Stanza-wise Explanation

  • Recapitulation

  • Literary Devices

  • NCERT Solution


  • This poem deals with the transition of a person from childhood to adulthood.

  • The innocence and simplicity of the child is lost when he/she steps into adulthood.

  • The poet presents some unanswered questions on the transition from childhood into adulthood. These questions are pertinent and universal.

  • The poet concludes the poem with with a guess regarding where his childhood days might have discovered. He seems to be repenting at the passing away of his childhood days, which were full of fun and frolic.

Stanza-wise Explanation:

Stanza 1

When did my childhood go?

Was it the day I ceased to be eleven,

Was it the time I realized that Hell and Heaven,

Could not be found in Geography,

And therefore could not be,

Was that the day!


ceased: came to an end

Geography: the words 'Hell and Heaven' are mere fanciful concepts and did not physically exist.

Paraphrase: The poet wonders about the fact that he was quite unaware when his childhood phase had passed. He guesses that it might be when he completed eleven years. He further guesses when he realized that names like Heaven and Hell could not be found in maps, he might have crossed his childhood phase.

Stanza 2

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!


adults were not all they seemed to be: His eyes opened up to the hypocrisy of the adult world where love is preached, but not practised.

Paraphrase: The poet ponders over the transition, which he guessed, might have occurred when he realized that adults were not what they appeared to be. They spoke and preached of love but did not practise it in their lives. The poet guessed that his childhood phase might have been over on that moment of realization.

Stanza 3

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!”


  • my mind was really mine: The poet became aware of his own ability to think and realized that he could think independently.

Paraphrase: In the process of growing up, the poet woke up to the fact that he had a mind which could think on its own, have individual thoughts and ideas and could use it as he decided to . Was it this understanding of his individuality that made him a man.

Para 4

Where did my childhood go?

It went to some forgotten place,

That’s hidden in an infant’s face,

That’s all I know.


  • forgotten place: innocence of childhood which can be found in the face of an infant is forgotten thereafter when the child grows up.

  • infant’s face: Innocent of childhood is visible on the child's face.


The poet cannot figure out where his childhood has disappeared into. Perhaps it has gone to a place long forgotten and hidden itself beneath the face of an innocent infant. His childhood must be hidden in the face of an infant- in the innocence that is long forgotten.


  • The poet cannot figure out when exactly he ceased to be a child.

  • When he turned twelve, he realised that concepts of heaven and hell were merely fanciful.

  • in one of the phases of his transition from childhood, he could realize the hypocrisy of the adult people. He realized that they did not practise what they preach.

  • His individuality developed as he further grew up. He started thinking independently without being influenced by others.

  • the poem concludes with a shift in the question from 'when' to 'where' his childhood had disappeared.

  • The poet comforts himself with a guess that it must be hidden in the face of an infant-in the innocence that is long forgotten.

NCERT solution

Think It Out

1. Identify the stanzas that talks of each of the following:

individuality rationalism hypocrisy

Individuality: stanza 3 where he talks about his own mind, individual thoughts and decisive power of his won.

Rationalism: stanza 1 where he discusses the ability to distinguish fact from fantasy.

Hypocrisy: Stanza 2 in which he talks about the duality of the adult world, where people do not practise what they preach.

2. What, according to the poem, is involved in the process of growing up?

The innocence and simplicity of childhood gives way to rationalism and skepticism. One gradually learns to see through the hypocrisy of the adult world where love is preached and hatred is practised. His thoughts are no longer influenced or directed by others. But a the same time, there is a lamentation at the loss of childhood.

3. What is the poet's feeling towards childhood?

Ans: the poet regrets the loss of childhood and along with it , the disappearance of innocence and simplicity. words like Heaven and Hell were enough to keep a child from doing wrong things. He has become nostalgic about about his childhood and laments that it is now lost and forgotten.

4. Which do you think are the most poetic lines? Why?

Ans: The most poetic lines are the concluding lines of the poem' It went to some forgotten place. That's hidden in an infant's face. ..' These lines are filled with nostalgia and touch a deep chord in the reader's heart. It takes us back to a forgotten phase in our life, pure, innocent and divine.

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