The poem ‘Chivvy’ is a catalogues of various do’s and don’ts that the grown-ups dictate to young children. The adults constantly give a list of instructions to the children about how to sit, how to talk, how to eat and so on.

The poem, however, indicates a passage of time when the young child has grown up and is incapable of taking a decision on his own. The same adults, then, chide the grown up child for not being able to think independently.

Stanzawise Explanation

Stanza 1

Grown-ups say things like:

Speak up

Don’t talk with your mouth full

Don’t stare; Don’t point

Dont’t pick your nose

Reference  The above lines have been taken from Michael Rosen’s poem, ‘Chivvy’.

Context  The poet points out to a series of instructions given by the grown-ups.

Explanation  The poem opens with a long list of instructions. In all likelihood, these instructions are being issued by the adults to their young ones. Speak, up, don’t talk while your mouth is full of food and so on are just a few examples.


Stanza 2

Sit up; Say please; Less noise

Shut the door behind you

Don’t drag your feet

Haven’t you got a hankie?

Take your hands out of

your pockets

Reference  Same as in Stanza 1

Context  The poet continues to put an emphasis on how the young children are directed to act in accordance with the instructions issued by the adults.

Explanation  The second stanza of the poem continues with yet another set of instructions. Each and every activity of the young child is administered and put under the surveillance of the grown-ups.



Stanza 3

Pull your socks up; Stand up straight

Say thank you; Don’t interrupt

No one thinks you’re funny

Take your elbows off the table

Can’t you make your own

mind up about anything?

Reference  Same as in Stanza 1

Context  The poet showcases how the child is still being reprimanded by the adult, though the child has grown up.

Explanation  The final couplet of the poem shows that perhaps the young child has grown up. However, the adults around him continue to reprimand him. But, this time for a different reason. The child is unable to decide anything for himself. He is not certain about anything. It’s quite ironical as the entire childhood of this child was spent blindly following the instructions.