1.1 In the poem the speaker
offers the child a
welcome into the world
and outlines what he
hopes will become her
1.2 The poem briefly presents traditional
good wishes and hopes offered on
such occasions - "the usual stuff" - but
follows with the suggestion of a less
conventional path to "happiness" won
by "An average of talents" rather than
1.3 the poem was written shortly after
Sally's (writter) birth, but "Born
yesterday" is also a phrase used to
describe someone who is clueless
about the world. thus making the poems
title a pun.
2.1 two sections, a ten-line stanza and a 14-line stanza. The
lines are short and direct.
2.2 The first stanza concentrates on
the presentation and eventual
deflation of traditional wishes for
a newborn child.
2.3 The second stanza presents the
speaker's unconventional hopes for
the child. The greater length of the
second stanza is an indication of the
belief that this attitude is more
3.1 "tightly folded bud" over protective parents.
3.1.1 natural image associated with a newborn baby, that of
the "Tightly-folded bud". This metaphor reflects the
baby's curled posture.
3.2 The third and fourth lines start with negative words
"None" and "Not", shifting the emphasis from "the usual
stuff/About being beautiful" and leading a life "running off
a spring/Of innocence and love".
3.2.1 The use of negatives undermines the
presentation of traditional wishes as
well as preparing the reader for the
second stanza in which less
conventional wishes are offered.
3.3 "may you be ordinary" doesn't want her to be different to other women.
3.4 "in fact may you be dull" he may consider being "dull" a good thing.
3.5 The speaker sets himself apart from "the others", brushing aside their sentiments
("They will all wish you that").
3.6 The closing lines are presented as a list, an energetic, optimistic outburst that
contrasts with the previous language of being "average" and "dull".
3.7 The poet wishing the baby happiness in
the future, but is more honest, realistic
4 Attitudes, Themes and ideas
4.1 The speaker in Born Yesterday asserts the
opinion that the best way of "Catching" happiness
is to embrace the "ordinary", "dull" life that so
many people experience.
4.1.1 To wish for more is perhaps to focus on unrealistic
and ultimately damaging ambitions.
4.2 The language of the poem
reflects certain beliefs: "ordinary",
"average", "nothing uncustomary",
"balance", "dull" are all presented
as desirable qualities or
conditions, despite their
customary negative associations.
4.3 The "usual stuff" about wishing a newborn
child a life of "beauty" and "love and
innocence" is dismissed as naïve - perhaps
those who wish such things are "born