Theme

This is a symbolic poem. The world is threatened with war, misery and poverty. But all these have failed to crush man’s love for pleasure. Children enjoy the sweet spray of the juice forgetting all about the misery they live in.

Wicks balance flame, a dark dew falls
In the street f the fruit stalls
Melone, guava, mandarin,
Pyramid-piled like cannon balls,
Glow red-hot, gold-hot, from within.

Dark children with a coin to spend
Enter the lantern’s orbit; find
Melon, guava, mandarin—-
The moon compacted to a rind,
The sun in a pitted skin.

They take it, break it open, let
A gold or silver fountain wet
Mouth, fingers, cheek , nose chin:
Radiant as lanterns, they forget
The dark street I am standing in.

(Jan stallworthy)

Paraphrase

It is evening time. It is wet and dark. There is a street of fruit sellers where various fruit are piled up in a conical form. They reflect hot, red and golden colours which in dim lantern light look like bombs. Poor children come there with a coin and stand in the light of the lanterns. They look at melon, guava and other fruit. Their mouths water. They pick up a fruit and break it open. Juice comes out and pours itself into their mouths, and also sticks on their fingures and cheeks. They enjoy the fruit, and are least conscious of their surroundings.

Glossary

Guava Fruit of a tropical tree with a light yellow skin and pink or white edible flesh.
Mandarin A type of small orange with a loose skin.
Wick A piece of cord or tape in a candle, oil lamp etc.
Pyramid A large stone structure with a flat square or triangular base and sloping sides that meet in a point at the top.