A Child's Sleep

A Child’s Sleep Poem Theme Analysis

It is the Scottish poet Carol Ann Duffy, the Scottish poet, who wrote A Child’s Sleep. The poem was first published in her Meeting Midnight (1999) which is a collection of poems written specifically for children. 

  • A Child’s Sleep is a description of the ideal and peaceful description of a child under the watchful eye of her own mother
  • The speaker (the mother) imagines the world of her daughter’s slumber as a (I) Dark (II) Endless or Infinite (III) Peaceful jungle that she (herself) cannot enter
  • She also feels or sees a sense of kinship with the knight itself; it appears that it looks down upon the world with its own maternal gaze
  • In short, this Carol Ann Duffy’s poem is a presentation of a loving, gentle portrait of childhood innocence as well as the comfort of a mother’s love
Istood at the edge of my child's sleep
hearing her breathe;
although I could not enter there,
I could not leave.

Her sleep was a small wood,
perfumed with flowers;
dark, peaceful, sacred,
acred in hours.

And she was the spirit that lives
in the heart of such woods;
without time, without history,
wordlessly good.

I spoke her name, a pebble dropped
in the still night,
and saw her stir, both open palms
cupping their soft light;

then went to the window. The greater dark
outside the room
gazed back, maternal, wise,
with its face of moon.

A Child’s Sleep Summary

A mother (the speaker herself), in the poem A Child’s Sleep by Carol Ann Duffy, enters the room in order to see her sleeping daughter who is fully calm or still. The mother of this child is fighting between these two things: 

  • (I) not wanting to disturb her, as well as
  • (II) desiring to enjoy the calmness of this particular moment.

The mother speaker of Carol Ann Duffy’s A Child’s Sleep finds that her sleeping child is so quiet as well as still that she resembles “a small wood”; a magical place where she resides. Moreover, the mother sees her daughter as being the only person who resides in the woods. 

The mother, in the last stanza of the poem A Child’s Sleep, goes to rouse the daughter by addressing her with (her) the name. And, the sudden intrusion of sound is similar to that pebble that drops in a pond.

Though the girl hears her, does not wake up and just moves in her sleep. It is noteworthy that the goodness of this child’s inner life is only clearer when she gets closer to consciousness.

When the readers of A Child’s Sleep come to the final lines of the poem they find that the mother (I) moves to the window, as well as (II) looks out into the night at the moon, which is there staring back at her. It seems to the speaker that the moon is reflecting her own feelings or emotions. It is maternal as well as understands all the love the mother feels for her child.

 A Child’s Sleep Form and Structure  

Carol Ann Duffy wrote the poem A Child’s Sleep in five stanzas. 

  • The poem is separated into sets of four lines, which means quatrains.
  • They (quatrains) follow specific rhyme schemes such as abcb defe as well as so on 
  • The aforementioned pattern remains consistent throughout this poem. Moreover, the poet crafted it in an effort to emphasize the simple, peaceful, as well as fluid nature of the girls’ sleep (described throughout the poem)

Ques: What is the purpose of the poem A Child’s Sleep by Carol Ann Duffy ?

Ans: A Child’s Sleep is a personal as well as a universal poem which expresses the spiritual nature of a child as well as the maternal feelings of the poet. Moreover, its title is also important in that it uses an indefinite article. In fact, the poem is not just about a specific child, it is also about universal childhood as well as maternal love.

Ques: Who narrates A Child’s Sleep?

Ans: The mother is the narrator of A Child’s Sleep.

Ques: What is the theme of Carol Ann Duffy’s poem A Child’s Sleep ?

Ans: A Child’s Sleep introduces the themes of: 
Childhood Innocence, as well as,
Maternal Love

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