Amanda is written by Australian poet Robin Klein. The poet deals with the theme of torture and ill-treatment of young children by their parents. In the poem, Amanda is a young girl who is constantly insulted by her parents for various mistakes she commits.
As a child, she feels depressed and sorrowful In order to escape from the daily ill-treatment, she imagines herself to be free and enjoying.
In the poem, one stanza describes how she is insulted by her parents and the succeeding (the next one) which is in bracket tells which she imagines escaping from the pain of harassment. We will discuss each stanza line by line and also learn the meanings of difficult words.
The parents of young Amanda command her not to bite her nails. They further ask her to refrain from hunching (bending) her shoulders and also stop slouching (remaining lazy) and rather sit up straight.
In the very first stanza, we come to know that Amanda is a young child who has some habits which are not liked by her parents. Hence they often scold her for doing wrong things like biting nails, bending shoulders while sitting etc. They ask her not to remain lazy and sit straight.
The second stanza is written in the bracket which depicts what little Amanda is imagining in order to escape the daily taunt and scolding. Amanda imagines as if there is a languid (quiet and patient) and emerald (here it means green in color) sea in which she is a mermaid (a fictional water animal with face of a girl and body of a fish).
As a mermaid, she imagines to be living alone (sole inhabitant) in the sea and drifting (moving slowly with the currents of water) blissfully (happily).
The second stanza, gives bird-eye view of what a little child thinks when he/she is constantly scolded by his/her parents. Little Amanda does not like the real world and thus imagines herself to be a mermaid living alone in the vast and quiet sea and moving here and there without any restriction.
The parents again scold little Amanda in the 3rd stanza. They ask her whether she has finished her homework or not, whether she has tidied her room i.e. put the things in order or not and whether she has cleaned her shoes or not.
The lines suggest that she has not done her homework, nor cleaned her room and her shoes. She seems to be careless to her parents who are quite frustrated and scold her for being lazy and inactive.
Stanza 4 is again in the bracket which tells what little Amanda is thinking in order to escape the harassment. Amanda imagines as if she is an orphan (has no parents) and roaming (wandering) around the street.
Doing so, she would have made her hushed (here it means inactive or which are not in motion) bare feet dirty with dust. However, she loves being an orphan because the silence is golden and the freedom is sweet.
She believes that being an orphan she would be happier because there will be no roaring voice (of her parents). It will be silence everywhere and she will not be bound by the principles made by her parents. Hence she would be free. Here, the child imagines being free and quiet.
Her parents continue to scold her. This time her mother asks her not to eat chocolate (which she is eating). She reminds Amanda about her acne (pimples on her face).
Amanda does not seem to be listening to her mother which further irritates the latter (i.e. her mother). So, her mother asks her to look at her as she is speaking to her.
In this stanza, parent of Amanda (probably mother) is angry because she has seen her eating chocolate. When she tries to stop Amanda from eating cake, the latter looks away which makes her mother more angry.
Amanda again escapes to imaginations. She imagines as if she is Rapunzel (a German fairy princess with long golden hair captured by a witch in a castle). Read the story of Rapunzel here.
Amanda imagines as if she is Rapunzel and living in the tower. She does not care for anything. She desires to remain there forever and does not want to let her bright golden hair down the window (as Rapunzel did in order to bring her lover up).
Hence, she does not want any human with her. She desires to remain alone in a place where no one can come. The lines show how much she is fed up with humans especially her parents.
In the final stanza, the mother of Amanda asks her to immediately stop sulking (annoyed and disappointed face). She further blames little Amanda for being moody and angry all the time.
According to her, she should not remain angry all the time. It will make others think that she is nagging (harassing and torturing) her (Amanda).
The poem ends. It looks like after being repeatedly scolded, Amanda stops imagining. She has made a habit of listening to the torturous words everyday.