The Hunchback In The Park Poem by Dylan Thomas Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English


In The Hunchback In The Park written by Dylan Thomas is about a lonely, disfigured man who lives in a park and he is the main character. It describes the abuse this man experienced and prompts readers to consider how they treat others and how their behavior towards individuals who are different from them can make those people feel. Thomas does an excellent job of evoking compassion for the poem’s titular “hero,” which in turn truly prompts the reader to think what life could be like for those who are different from them.

About the poet

Dylan Marlais Thomas  was born in 1914, and in 1931 he started working as a reporter for the South Wales Daily Post. In 1937, he married Caitlin Macnamara, and they had three kids. During his lifetime, he rose to fame, although he struggled to support himself as a writer. Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, who lived in the 20th century, is renowned for his inventive, rhythmic, and astute use of language and imagery. In the 1950s, he visited the US and was highlighted by the BBC. He was buried at Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, after passing away in 1953. He continues to have wide public support.


Stanza 1

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 poem The Hunchback in the Park is about the suffering that the main character goes through. There are stanzaic end-rhymes (water/enter, lock/dark), and the narrator continues to refer to him as the hunchback. The poem’s title implies that the hunchback, who is described as “a solitary mister” in the poem’s opening lines, is isolated because of his physical disability. The speaker implies that he is undoubtedly homeless or, at the absolute least, unemployed since he is “propped between trees and water” in the park from the start of the day till the end.

Stanza 2

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 first two words of this stanza conjure up ideas of a prisoner, implying that the speaker feels like a captive because of how different he is. Then someone makes a remark about how children brutally taunt the man by pouring gravel into his drink. The reader will feel more compassion for the man after reading about his sleeping in a kennel. The descriptions provide more proof that the hunchback is a pauper who consumes food out of newspapers and liquids from linked cups. After that, the speaker reflects on his own youth, noticing that he filled the cup at the same fountain where he had sailed his ship.

Stanza 3

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

Thomas utilizes half-rhymes to portray the hunchback in a favorable light. He describes his entry into the park as being like a bird and his sitting down as being like water. He is obviously uncomfortable with the way he is treated when school dropouts address him. He arrives at the park on time every day, sits down by the lake, and waits to hear the shouts of the “truant boys from town.” In an effort to avoid being heard, he flees from them.

Stanza 4

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.

As the hunchback tries to get away from his tormentors, Thomas alludes to the natural world. According to the speaker, the jeering boys treat the hunchback man more like an animal in a zoo than like a fellow human being. They stroll about “hunchbacked in mockery” and laugh “when he shook his paper”. The speaker alludes to how the boys are treating the hunchback by calling the park the “loud zoo” They kept making fun of him while “dodging the park keeper,” who may be the park ranger or another person in charge who could put an end to their antics.

Stanza 5

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 old dog-sleeper is a nickname for the hunchback, who was compared to a dog in the second verse. It is obvious that he has taken temporary shelter among the swans. Another allusion to nature, maybe to emphasize that although the man is different, he is just as lovely as the other creatures. The boys are compared to tigers, which is certainly done to emphasize their predatory behaviors while maintaining the realness of the imagery. The speaker demonstrates the man’s capacity to rise above the children’s bullying. The boys “made the tigers jump out of their eyes” as he sat by himself. The hunchback is still able to appreciate the swans, the stones, and the sailors despite all of this.

Stanza 6

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 opening line of this verse subtly suggests that the hunchback must put up with unpleasant games all day long until the end of the school day, when the tardy students must go. After finding a woman, the hunchback compares her to himself and confesses that he yearns for a connection with someone who is “like that she might stand in the night.” This stanza describes the hunchback’s activities while he puts up with the children’s jeers. Though he lives alone and has a malformed physique, he is an artist with a mind capable of producing stunning works of art that are in stark contrast to his own physical features. He stays in the park even after it has been shut up while he goes to sleep in a kennel.

Stanza 7

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.

These lines describe the hunchback’s solitary journey across the neglected park. The presence of birds, grass, trees, and a lake immerses him in the natural surroundings as he wanders through the poorly developed park, passing by barriers and shrubbery. The addition of the wild boys, who are as untamed and innocent as strawberries, provides a sense of togetherness as they follow the hunchback to his secret home, which is described as a kennel in the dark. In the hunchback’s dark world, these words portray a striking sense of loneliness, curiosity, and connection.