Can anyone help with an analysis of Sandor Weores' poem "Monkeyland"?

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coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sandor Weores wrote many poems, being a very productive writer and on first glance they seem like nursery rhymes or fairy tales, in that they seem aimed at children because the almost cartoon-like imagery and incongruous style are like the ‘Nonsense Poetry ‘ of Victorian times. For example ‘Monkeyland’ seems fun and comical and light-hearted, perhaps a little like the perceptions some people have about monkey behaviour. For example, many people go to zoos and monkey houses believing that the monkeys love to perform their antics just for us when in reality, if they did, this would be a sad twist of their development for they would have learned this changed behaviour for the sake of some kind of treat or reward. Look a little closer at the funny antics though and more disturbing images appear, causing even adult readers to stop and question the outward appearances of Sandor’s poetry. The beginning of the poem talks of happy things like baobab fruits, carefree swinging and monkeys playing in a carefree way, but the last phrase suggests to us that they are in captivity (monkey ‘bars.’)Then the monkeys seem likened to us, displaying problems that are all too human (‘in monkey sanatoriums crying there.) We begin to wonder if there are more serious undertones that would be hard to explain to children.The idea of prisons and captivity is taken up again in the middle of the poem, then the ideas of education and religion (monkey heaven and hell.) Cleverness is rewarded and children must perform like monkeys  in order to win praise and although monkeys look playful, in real life play is frowned upon as not being a worthwhile learning activity. So there is a contradiction within the poem about ideas about work and play, peacefulness and fighting, freedom and captivity. So we guess the monkeys are not childlike and carefree after all and that they are holding up a mirror to our society today with it’s soldiers, conflict and wars.

The end of the poem underlines the message that underneath the beauty and fun and playtime our world offers us, lies pain and misunderstanding and violence and that really we have not progressed as far as we might like to think:

monkey military fright

reflected in each monkeyface,

with monkeygun in monkeyfist

the monkeys' world the world we face.