Paper Boats – Summary, Analysis

The poem “Paper Boats” is about a child who makes paper boats and sends them down a stream on a daily basis. The speaker writes his/her name and the name of his/her village on the boats, hoping that someone in a faraway place will find them and know who they are. The child also puts shiuli flowers on the boats, which are associated with dawn and new beginnings, and hopes that they will reach land safely at night. As the watches the boats float downstream, the child sees clouds in the sky that resemble white sails. The child wonders who is sending the clouds down to race with their boats. At night, the child buries their face in their arms and dreams that the paper boats continue to float on under the stars, carried by the fairies of sleep and filled with baskets of dreams.

Explanation

The poem “Paper Boats” describes the daily ritual of the speaker, who makes paper boats and sends them down a stream. They write their name and the name of their village on the boats, implying a desire for connection and a sense of identity. They also put shiuli flowers, which are associated with dawn and new beginnings, on the boats. This may suggest a hope for a fresh start or a new beginning in a different place.

As the speaker watches the boats float downstream, they see clouds in the sky that resemble sails. This could be interpreted as a metaphor for the passage of time or the fleeting nature of life. The speaker wonders who is sending the clouds down to race with their boats, possibly suggesting a sense of playfulness or whimsy.

At night, the speaker dreams that the boats continue to float on under the stars, carried by the fairies of sleep and filled with baskets of dreams. This could be interpreted as a representation of the speaker’s imagination or aspirations for the future. The use of the word “fairies” adds a touch of magic and mystery to the poem. Overall, the poem seems to be about the speaker’s desire for connection, identity, and a sense of adventure or possibility.

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Analysis of the poem

The poem “Paper Boats” contains themes of identity, connection, and imagination. The speaker’s desire for connection is evident in their hope that someone in a faraway place will find their paper boats and know who they are. The inclusion of the name of their village also suggests a sense of belonging and roots.

The theme of identity is closely tied to the theme of connection, as the speaker wants to be known and recognized by someone in a different place. The act of writing their name on the boats can be seen as a way of asserting their presence and individuality.

Imagination is present in the poem through the speaker’s use of metaphor and the dream-like quality of the final stanza. The clouds resembling sails and the fairies of sleep sailing the boats could be seen as symbols of the speaker’s ability to dream and imagine possibilities beyond their current reality.

Overall, the poem presents a sense of longing for connection and a desire for recognition, as well as the power of imagination to transport us to new places and possibilities.

Questions and Answers

Q: Who is the speaker of the poem?
A: The speaker of the poem is a child.

Q: What does the child do with their paper boats?
A: The child sends their paper boats down a stream and writes their name and the name of their village on them.

Q. When does the child float the paper boats?
A: The child floats the paper boats day by day down the running stream.

Q. What does the child write on the paper boats?
A: The child writes their name and the name of the village they live in on the paper boats.

Q. Why does the child do so?
A: The child writes their name and the name of their village on the paper boats in the hope that someone in a faraway place will find them and know who they are.

Q. What does the child put in the paper boats?
A: The child puts shiuli flowers in the paper boats and hopes that the blooms of the dawn will be carried safely to land at night.

Q. What does the child do when night comes? A: When night comes, the child buries their face in their arms and dreams that their paper boats float on and on under the midnight stars. The fairies of sleep are sailing in them, and the lading is their baskets full of dreams.

Q: What is the child hoping will happen to their paper boats?
A: The child is hoping that someone in a faraway place will find their paper boats and know who they are.

Q: What do the clouds in the sky represent in the poem?
A: The clouds in the sky could represent the passage of time or the fleeting nature of life. They may also be seen as a metaphor for the child’s imagination or aspirations.

Q: What is the significance of the fairies of sleep in the poem?
A: The fairies of sleep add a touch of magic and mystery to the poem and could symbolize the power of the imagination to transport us to new places and possibilities. They may also represent the child’s dreams and aspirations for the future.

Q: What do the shiuli flowers symbolize in the poem?
A: The shiuli flowers, which are associated with dawn and new beginnings, could symbolize a hope for a fresh start or a new beginning in a different place.

Q: What is the overall tone of the poem?
A: The overall tone of the poem could be described as dreamy and longing. The child’s desire for connection and recognition, as well as the use of metaphors and the dream-like quality of the final stanza, contribute to this tone.

Q: What is the child’s relationship with their paper boats?
A: The child seems to have a close and personal relationship with their paper boats. They take care to load them with shiuli flowers and watch them float downstream with a sense of wonder. The dream in the final stanza suggests that the paper boats hold special meaning for the child.

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Q: How does the child feel about the clouds in the sky?
A: The child seems to be curious about the clouds in the sky and wonders who is sending them down to race with their paper boats. They may see the clouds as playmates or companions, adding a sense of whimsy to the poem.

Q: How often does the child send their paper boats down the stream?
A: The child sends their paper boats down the stream on a daily basis.

Q: What does the child do at night?
A: At night, the child buries their face in their arms and dreams that the paper boats continue to float on under the stars, carried by the fairies of sleep and filled with baskets of dreams.

Q: How does the child feel about the prospect of someone finding their paper boats and knowing who they are?
A: The child seems to be hopeful and enthusiastic about the possibility of someone finding their paper boats and knowing who they are. This desire for connection and recognition is a central theme in the poem.

Q: How does the child feel about the shiuli flowers on their paper boats?
A: The child seems to have a positive association with the shiuli flowers and hopes that they will be carried safely to land at night. The flowers may hold special meaning for the child or represent a hope for a new beginning.

Q: What is the overall message of the poem?

A: The overall message of the poem could be interpreted as a celebration of the power of imagination and the longing for connection and recognition. The child’s ritual of making and sending paper boats down the stream and the dream-like quality of the final stanza suggest a desire to escape the constraints of daily life and explore new possibilities.

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