Poem with an explanation: Little Billy’s Birthday

Little Billy’s dad told him he should like football.

Little Billy replied that he did not.

Little Billy’s dad told him that was silly, that all boys should like football.

Little Billy replied that he did not.

Little Billy’s dad told him that for Billy’s birthday, he would buy Billy a football.

Little Billy replied that he did not want a football.

Little Billy’s dad told him that was silly and he would get one.

Little Billy replied that he did not want a football.

 

Little Billy’s birthday came, and his dad gave him a football.

Little Billy looked sad.

Little Billy’s dad asked why he looked sad.

Little Billy replied because he did not want a football.

Little Billy’s dad said that was silly, that all boys should like football.

Little Billy replied that he did not.

Little Billy’s dad said that all boys like football.

Little Billy replied that he had told his dad that he did not.

Little Billy’s dad said that Billy had not said anything like that.

Little Billy replied he had.

Little Billy’s dad said that was not true.

Little Billy replied he had told his dad twice.

Little Billy’s dad said that Billy was ungrateful.

Little Billy asked his dad why he would buy him something he knew he did not want.

Little Billy’s dad said that Billy was spoiled.

Little Billy asked his dad why he couldn’t have gotten him something he liked for his birthday.

Little Billy’s dad said he should be happy he got anything.

Little Billy asked why his dad had treated him this way.

Little Billy’s dad did not understand.

Little Billy asked why his dad had to do something to his son rather than for his son, even on his birthday.

Little Billy’s dad did not understand.

Little Billy asked why his dad could not have just been nice to him on his birthday.

Little Billy’s dad got mad, cancelled Billy’s birthday, and sent Billy to his room.

Little Billy sat in his room alone.

Little Billy stayed awake until 12:00:01 am.

 

This poem is about a little boy’s birthday.  It tells the story of the boy getting a present he did not like for his birthday.  Rather than it being a poem about an ungrateful child, it is a poem about a boy whose father doesn’t listen to him or care about his feelings.  The present the boy got was something his father wanted him to have, but not something he wanted.  The idea of the poem is that the father is concerned with his view of things and doesn’t care about his son’s view, even on his son’s birthday.  This reflects their relationship overall.

The poem starts before the boy’s birthday.  He is having a conversation with his dad.  His dad thinks his son should like football, but his son doesn’t.  The dad doesn’t listen to his son and dismisses him.  The dad feels so much that his son should like football that he tells him he will buy him one for his birthday.  Twice his son says that he does not want a football.  He is dismissed by his dad.

When the boy’s birthday comes, his dad gives him a football.  The boy is sad.  When the dad asks him why, he responds because he does not like football.  His dad dismisses what he says and insists that all boys like football.

The son tells his dad that he had said that he did not like football.  His dad denies that his son said this.  They go back and forth and his son says that he had told his dad twice that he did not like football.

The dad calls the son ungrateful.  The son questions why his dad would buy him something he knew that he did not want.  The dad calls the son spoiled.  The son questions why his dad couldn’t have gotten him something he liked for his birthday.  His dad says he should be happy he got anything.

The son questions his treatment but his dad does not understand.  His son asks why his dad did something to him rather than for him on his birthday.  Again the dad does not understand.  The son questions why his dad could not have been nice to him on his birthday.  The dad gets mad, cancels the birthday, and sends his son to his room.

The son sits in his room alone and stays awake until his birthday completely ends.

 

This is a poem about listening, perspective, understanding, kindness, and importance.

In the poem, the dad does not listen to his son.  He sees the world a certain way, and doesn’t seem to comprehend why his son doesn’t see it the same.  The dad wants what he wants and disregards how his son feels.

The dad didn’t listen to his son and couldn’t see things from his son’s point of view.  He wanted something for his son and couldn’t see past that.  When his son isn’t happy having a day that was supposed to be special for him, turn into a day where his dad imposes something on him, his dad doesn’t understand.  The son is insulted and punished and his birthday is spoiled because the dad thought it was more important to do what he wanted to his son, rather than doing something for his son.  He couldn’t see that his son’s birthday was an important day where his son should be given importance.  He simply thought something and did it.  He didn’t think how his son would feel.  To the son, the day was important for him; for the dad, the day was just a day to do what he wanted to his son.

 

Every line of this poem starts with “Little Billy” or “Little Billy’s”.  While this may seem repetitive, it was done intentionally.  The idea was first, to stress the importance of the son.  The poem is about him and his perspective.  Second, is the idea that Billy is “little”.  He is little for a few reasons.  First, he is young.  He is just a little boy.  Second, in the poem he is meek.  His dad is big and imposing and he is small and helpless.  Third, Billy is a junior.  He is named after his dad.  This goes back to the idea of control.  His dad named his son after himself as a way to control him.

In the first section of the poem, the part before the party, in every statement of Billy’s dad, his dad tells him something.  He doesn’t speak with his son, but to his son.  In that same section, every time Billy speaks, he replies to his dad.  Billy is talking with his dad, not to him.  In this section, Billy’s words are repeated.  His first two lines are the same and his last two lines are the same.  This stresses that Billy was clear about how he felt.

In the next section, Little Billy’s lines continue primarily with the idea of either replying or asking.  His dad in this section says things to Billy or acts.

 

In some ways, this poem is about perspective.  Some reading it may side with the dad, and think Billy was ungrateful, spoiled and should be happy he got anything.  Presumably, there are some who feel that way.  For those he see it from that perspective though, imagine for a moment, if you were a vegetarian, and someone bought you meat for your birthday because they thought you should eat it.  Would you feel like Billy?

Others reading this poem though, may see it from the point of view of Billy.  Billy’s birthday was supposed to be a very special day for him, but it was changed into something else.  Billy wanted his birthday to be special and important for him and it wasn’t.  His dad put himself first, rather than his son.

 

P. S. Do you like poems with explanations? If so, you can purchase a copy of M. Sakran’s self-published collection of poems with explanations called, Understanding: poems with explanations.  It has twenty poems, each with a detailed explanation.  If you like explained poems, you should buy a copy.

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