When you first read Richard Snyders narrative poem, "A Mongoloid Child Handling Shells on the Beach", it may be perceived that the poem is indeed about a child, happily gathering shells upon the shore. However, if we closely consider the diction and connotations that Synder uses, we can speculate that the meaning of the poem depicts a deeper and darker theme. The title itself gives us an idea from the beginning. The word Mongoloid, as identified in Websters New World Dictionary (675), is an early term for Down's Syndrome, a state of mental retardation. Therefore I believe that the poem represents the child as an outcast from the norm of society.
There are several words in the text that refer to the child that we usually wouldn't associate with youth. An early clue would again be found in the title, "A Mongoloid Child Handling Shells on the Beach". Notice that Snyder used the word "handling" instead of playing or collecting, words which
we might think of while envisioning a young girl
investigating sea shells. Snyder also uses the word 'slow' to describe the child on more than one occasion, as we see in line one and line eight : "She turns them over in her slow hands/ ...hums back to it its slow vowels." Yet another example could be in line four, which reads: " they are the calmest things on this sand." Calm is yet another word that we would not most likely use to portray a young child. It very well could be that the author is trying to paint a picture of her impairment and symbolize her condition through her actions.
Considering Snyder depicted the ocean as "..the mazarine maze,"(3) instead of simply stating that it is the "deep blue sea", it is easy to speculate that the ocean represents life itself. Her being outside of the...