The poet looks at all the fears that face modern humanity through the eyes of an unborn child, and
asks God (or humanity?) to spare him these terrors.
Stanza 1: The first fear refers to all the frightening things of the night, both real and imaginary.
Stanza 2: Next is the fear of being closed in by lies and persuasion, being led by drugs, tortured
both mentally and physically, and being made to participate in warfare and other massacres.
Stanza 3: He makes a plea for the good things of life which today are fast disappearing: clean
water, love, forests, birds and purity ("white light") as a guide.
Stanza 4: The child asks for forgiveness for all the sins that the world is going to make him
commit in the future: his wrong words, his evil thoughts, those times when he is led to commit
treason, when he will be forced to kill other people, and ultimately for his own death of spirit
because he has been forced to give into these social pressures.
Stanza 5: The child asks to be guided into the part he must act in this dramatic performance of
life so that he is able to perform his role correctly, that he be given all the right clues on how to
react when important people lecture him or laugh at him. Note the metaphor of the stage. Note
too the extended personification: mountains frowning, deserts calling, etc.
Stanza 6: A plea is made that tyrants and autocrats (e.g. Adolph Hitler) may not be allowed to
come near him.
Stanza 7: He asks for the strength not to become a killing machine ("lethal automaton") or just a
part in a machine ("cog in a machine"). He pleads moreover that he be not allowed to become
inhuman ("a thing") or something that is completely at the mercy of others ("blow me like
thistledown hither and thither") or spilt as if he were just water.
Stanza 8: His final plea is that his heart may not turn to stone, or his life be wasted. Failing that,
he would rather be aborted right away.
The poet examines the...