This poem is a beautiful description of social injustice concerning child labor. It makes a statement about childhood in the Eastern world, and how different it can be from a western readers childhood.
The first line of the poem gives an effect of surrealism by saying that the children are “at another world”. It may imply that the children face a different reality or are engulfed in their own small world. The two possible meanings of “loom”, one as a verb and the other as a noun, make it open for interpretation. As a noun it would seem most accurate, since the poem is about carpet-weavers, but as a verb it also gives an interesting effect with the phrase “of another world”, giving it the meaning of a large and threatening force, making the other world perhaps represent the wealthy western carpet dealers.
In the first stanza the children are also described, however only physical aspects of the children are noted and the children are never described as individuals, as we see in the anaphora of “their”. It gives you the impression that they work as one organism, quiet and docile while obediently weaving their carpets. The “assorted heights” show that the children are of all ages and sizes.
In the first line of the second stanza there is an alarmingly inappropriate simile, namely the mention of “television”, which shockingly compares these Eastern children to a typical Western childhood. The second line of the stanza comments on the tragedy of this comparison, explaining how the Muslim carpet market will expand, using “the garden of Islam” as a metaphor to represent this business, and by saying “the bench will be raised” means that these children will probably have to work like this their entire lives under mounting pressure from the rapidly developing textile markets. The beautiful descriptions of “dark-rose veins” that will lace the tree-tops metaphorically says that the children’s blood is weaved into the carpet, making the bold statement that this demanding work comes at the cost of many lost childhoods.
Stanza 3 describes how the carpet might be put to use. It ironically points out that the carpet will travel away, but the children won’t. The syntax of the last line of the stanza intensifies the personification of the carpet, giving us the impression of incredibly qualitative work. The verb “give” of the carpet when “heaped with prayers” may suggest that the carpet provides consolation to the people who come to the mosque with all their prayers, probably about similar situations to that of the children who made the carpet, and therefore the carpet unites Muslims across distances in suffering.
The final stanza we return to the plight of the young carpet-weavers as they “work in the school of days”. This suggests that, since the children are unable to go to school, they learn day by day from life experience. Between the two last lines we finally see the first enjambement in the poem. The second-to-last line the mention of colors and flying, along with the phrase “all-that-will-be”, reflects a vague sense of hope that the children have while weaving, but we see that in the last line, by more consonance of “f”, that their suffering is frozen into a “frame of all-that-was”, once again setting the children to their life-long labor sentence. All-that-was” represents their lost childhood, and perhaps also the loss of culture with the ever-looming, speedily developing Western market.
My first impression of this poem was that it was beautiful. However, when I began to understand the depth of its meaning I felt like I wanted to cry.
The innocent seriousness of these children is very tragic and how this poet delicately structures the poem, describing colors and fabrics amidst alarming metaphors and similes, really touches me. It brings the daily life of these children to reality for western readers who may not always comprehend what has been lost in the making of their carpets.