The Rebel Poem, English Poems

The Rebel Poem by D.J.Enright

Author's Introduction | DJ Enright

D.J Enright as known as Dennis Joseph Enright(1920- 2002) was born in 1920 to a middle-class family in London. Enright was an unsung hero of post-war British poetry. He is one of the most distinguished and eminent British literary figures and an exceptionally devoted teacher.

He taught English in the universities of Alexandria(Egypt), Japan, and Singapore; then returned to England to work in a publishing house. His poetry values irony above passion and keeps an emotional distance from the reader.

He visited three continents during his educational career. Enright's famous literary writings include(selected poems, 1969) and The Oxford Book of Contemporary Verse 1945-1980. He died of cancer in 2002.

Main Idea | The Rebel Poem

In this simple, humourous, and satirical poem. D.J Enright has drawn the picture of a rebel. The poet says that when common persons have short hair, the rebel has long hair. On the other hand, when common people have long hair, the rebel likes to have short hair.

When all talk in the classroom, the rebel keeps quiet and when others keep quiet, he creates a disturbance. When everybody is dressed in uniform, the rebel wears fantastic clothes. When others wear beautiful dresses, he puts on a uniform. 

The poet further says that a rebel always expresses strange views about things. He loves dogs when others love cats and when others show a preference for dogs, he shows his affection for cats. 

He wishes for rain, when everybody likes sun and when everybody likes rain, he longs for sunshine. The poet says that rebel has his own value in society. He provides a spice of variety in our dull and monotonous life.

The poem shows the poet's knowledge of human nature. The poet has exposed the behavior and attitude of young persons in a humourous manner, the attitude of a rebel. A rebel always acts against popular opinion and common behavior. 

His actions are motivated by a strong urge to look different from others. It seems that a rebel is an abnormal case. He is not a normal person. But his presence is a blessing for society. He brings novelty and thrill to the monotonous life of common people.

The poem is interesting in criticizing the behavior of young rebellious persons. The ambition and whims of youth have been beautifully expressed in the simple and undecorated language of this poem. The poet successfully persuades us to develop a tolerance for rebels and put up with their odd behavior.

It presents the typical contradictory, odd, and opposite behavior of a rebel. The Rebel is so-called. because he always acts against the established values and set traditions of society. He does not follow other people blindly. 

He opposes the opinion of the majority and wants to assert his own. His rebellious behavior is perhaps due to an inferiority complex. The rebel provides a spice of varsity in our dull and monotonous life. The poet advises us not to become a rebel.

The poet successfully persuades us to develop a tolerance for rebel and bear with his eccentric attitude. No doubt his strange behavior makes him an unwanted figure, however, the poet declares his presence good for society. The poem is full of light humor and sharp satire. It suggests us develop a tolerance for rebels.

Stanza 1 | The Rebel Poem

When everybody has short hair,

The rebel lets his hair grow long.

When everybody has long hair,

The rebel cuts his hair short.

Reference:

This stanza has been taken from the poem The rebel written by D.J.Enright.

Context:

This is a simple, humourous, and satirical poem in which D.J.Enright has drawn the picture of a rebel. The rebel is a part of society that wishes to look different from others. He believes in self-assertion. The rebel is so-called because he always acts against the established values and set traditions of society.

He opposes the opinion of the majority and wants to assert his own. His rebellious behavior is different from others. Anyhow, the poet favors the rebel and says that his presence is good for us. The poem has an element of satire also. The trivial behavior of the so-called people has been ridiculed.

Explanation:

In these lines, the poet describes the humorous and funny behavior of a rebel. The rebel always goes against the set rules and regulations of society. He acts opposite to whatever common people do. 

When all the people have short hair, the rebel grows his hair long. But when others keep long hair, the rebel keeps short hair. Actually, he tries to maintain his own individuality from his personal likings and disliking. 

Stanza 2

When everybody talks during the lesson,

The rebel doesn't say a word.

When nobody talks during the lesson,

The rebel creates a disturbance.

Reference and Context

The same as for the first stanza.

Explanation

In these lines, the poet describes the typical behavior of a rebel. The manners of the rebel are different in the classroom from other class fellows. When all the students talk and discuss during the lesson, the rebel keeps quiet. 

But when others are silent and listen attentively, the rebel starts talking and creates a disturbance in the class. In this way, he tries to establish his individuality.

Stanza 3

When everybody wears a uniform,

The rebel dresses fantastic clothes.

When everybody wears fantastic clothes,

The rebel dresses soberly.

Reference and Context

The same as for the first stanza.

Explanation

In these lines, the poet presents the behavior of an adolescent. He disagrees with others only to show himself prominent. When every other person puts on a serious type of uniform, the rebel does not copy them. At that moment, he puts on fantasy clothes. 
When every person puts on fantastic and colorful clothes, the rebel does not follow them. He then puts on serious type of sober clothes and disagrees with others. The lines are the representative lines about the nature of rebels who are found in every country and society.

Stanza 4

In the company of dog lovers,

The rebel expresses a preference for cats.

In the company of cat lovers,

The rebel puts in a good word for dogs.

Reference and Context:

The same as for the first stanza.

Explanation

In these lines, the poet tells us about a person who is called a rebel by the society for his different manners and nature. This rebel has to show his individuality in every company. When he is in the company of dog lovers, he tries to speak in favor of cats.

And when he is in the company of cat lovers, he tries his best to speak in favor of dogs. The rebel always adopts the opposite way of life than the other people because he has to show himself individual than others. These lines are the representative lines about the nature of rebels who are found in every country and society.

Stanza 5

When everybody is praising the sun,

The rebel remarks on the need for rain.

When everybody is greeting the rain,

The rebel regrets the absence of the sun.

Reference and Context:

The same as for the first stanza.

Explanation

In the given lines the poet tells us about another quality of the behavior of rebel. He always goes against the current of public opinion as well as public behavior. If everybody is praising the sun, the rebel starts praising the rain and begins his remarks about the need for it. 

If on the other hand, it is raining and people are happy with the rain, he will then praise the sun and say that there was a need for the sunshine at that time. Actually, he likes neither the sun nor the rain but he is simply to go against public opinion.

Stanza 6

When everybody goes to the meeting
The rebel stays at home and reads a book.
When everybody stays at home and reads a book,
The rebel goes to the meeting.

Reference and Context

Same as for the above passage.

Explanation

In these lines, the poet describes the nature of a rebel. A rebel is a young man who acts against social values and traditions. When people go to attend a meeting, the rebel stays at home and reads books. 

But when others stay at home to read books, the rebel goes out to attend the meeting. In this way, he tries to keep himself away from others.

Stanza 7

When everybody says, Yes please!
The rebel says, No thank you.
When everybody says: No thank you,
The rebel says, Yes, please!

Reference and Context

Same as for the above passage.

Explanation

The rebel always opposes the opinion of the majority and asserts his own. When all the people accept an offer, the rebel refuses it. But when others rejected an offer, he accepts it readily.

Whatever he does, he does it as a negative. The eccentric attitude of a rebel makes him an unwanted personality. But the poet says; It is very good that we have rebels. In fact, he asks us to put up with a rebel due to certain reasons.

Firstly, the rebel provides a spice of variety in our dull and monotonous life. Secondly, he brings changes in society. Lastly, he is a harmless person who wants to bring a change silently and peacefully.

Stanza 8

It is very good that we have rebels
You may not find it very good to be one.

Reference and Context

Same as for the above passage.

Explanation

The poet advises us not to become a rebel. He says; you may not find it very good to be one. A rebel is, in fact, always a target of criticism. People call him insane, anti-social, anti-tradition, psycho-case, etc. 

Therefore, no one will like to be a rebel. But reading between the lines, we learn that it is not a child's play to oppose the opinion of the majority. Only a brave person has the guts to do so. Hence, a rebel is a brave person because he opposes the opinion of the majority. 

He is not a commoner but a brave person who can become a rebel. If anyone considers himself brave and has the guts to face difficulties, he is valid for becoming a rebel.

Important Questions 

Question 1

Bring out the element of humor and irony in the poem, The Rebel.

Do you find any element of humor and satire in the poem, The Rebel?

Discuss the element of humor and satire in D.J Enright's poem The Rebel.

Answer

The poem The Rebel is remarkable for its amusing humor and mild satire. There is no hatred or hidden ill-will in the humor. The humor is treated through the funny behavior and anti-tradition attitude of the rebel.

The humor in the poem is because of the very strange and personal ways of the rebel. His different phases or stages of life make us laugh. His physical appearance, talk, and behavior are simply laughable.

His contradictory actions make us laugh. We find him moody but a peaceful person. The poet has humorously presented the character of a rebel in society. The contrast between the rebel and society is funny and ridiculous.

The poem satirizes the self-assertive nature of the rebel. Besides, it draws a dull picture of the behavior of common people. The majority of the people think and act alike. They are like robots. This is highly condemnable.

The poem is a satire on the people. All of us are self-assertive at certain times. We want to show off our individuality. Hence, the poet is in reality criticizing the behavior of normal people.

The rebel is actually in conflict with the duplicity or fraud of these people. He is honest and dependable in comparison. He is a foil( person who makes prominent or clear the qualities of another person by comparison) to the deceptiveness of other people.

Question 2

Discuss the contradictory attitude of the rebel.

Explain all that others do and rebel does not do.

D.J Enright's portrait of a rebel is keen, subtle, and witty. Elaborate.

Anwer

The poet has presented the picture of a rebel in this poem. The rebel is a young man. He wants to assert himself. He behaves differently from others. He always acts against the set traditions of society. He always violates moral values and social norms.

Rebel is always different from other members of society. His habits, manners, interests, and activities form others. For example, when people grow long hair, the rebel likes to have short hair and when everybody has short hair he grows his hair long.

When all students are silent in the class the rebel makes a noise and when others talk during the lesson, he keeps quiet. When everybody is dressed in uniform, the rebel wears fantastic clothes. When other wear beautiful dress, he puts on the uniform.

The poet says that a rebel is a non-traditional person. He loves dogs when others love cats. When others show preference for dogs, he shows affection for cats. He wishes for rain, when everybody likes sun and when everybody likes rain, he longs for sunshine. 

The poet says that a rebel brings novelty in our dull and monotonous life. If a person walks towards you, and you walk backward away, a situation like that of rebel arises. It creates humor and fun. The rebel tries to hold the mirror to them to show to the world that they are respectable in name only.

The poet satirizes the so-called decent people. These people only pretend to others by keeping short hair, keeping silent in classes, wearing simple and sober clothes, and by speaking and behaving in courteous ways. 

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