2 DecompositionWhen you look at a photograph to see if it is a good photograph you look at the COMPOSITION of the photograph.Composition: it is a feature of visual art, it refers to the arrangement of all the elements into a visually pleasing pattern or form.Decomposition: refers to the destruction of these elements.This was once a good photo with good composition but something decomposed it, made it into a terrible photo. This is what the poem is about: The destruction of something that seems to be good.
3 I have a picture I took in Bombay of a beggar asleep on the pavementI: poetThis poem was inspired by a picture taken by the poet. The picture was of a beggar, asleep on the pavement of Bombay.Bombay: also known as Mumbai.
4 grey-haired, wearing shorts and a dirty shirt, his shadow thrown aside like a blanket.In these lines you find a description of the beggar.Simile: his shadow is compared with a blanket. His shadow looks like a blanket that is thrown next to his body.
5 His arms and legs could be cracks in the stone, routes for the ants’ journey, the flies’ descents,Metaphor: his arms and legs could be cracks in the stone. His arms and legs looks like the cracks in the stone, so thin are they.Metaphor: his arms and legs could be routes for the ants’ journey. The man’s arms and legs look like roads used by ants. He may even have ants walking on his arms.Metaphor: his arms and legs could be the flies’ descents: his arms and legs look like the place where flies live and land.
6 Brain-washed by the sun into exhaustion he lies veined into stone, a fossil man.Metaphor: brain-washed by the sunBrain-washed: you believe something that is not true.The beggar can not be tired for he has only been sitting in the street. The sun is so hot that the beggar is brain-washed into believing that he is tired (exhausted).Metaphor: veined into stone – the arms and legs of the beggar are compared with the veins under your skin. It seems as if his arms and legs became the veins of the pavement.Metaphor: fossil man: the beggar seems to be part of the stone. He looks like a fossil.
7 Behind him there is a crowd passingly bemused by a pavement trickster and quiteindifferent to this very common sightof an old man asleep on the pavementBehind the beggar the crowd is entertained by people performing tricks. They are only bemused (entertained) while they pass them.indifferent: show no care or interest.The crowd shows no interest in the beggar. They are used to the sight of beggars sleeping on the street.
8 pavement trickster: ambiguous (has more than one meaning) It could refer to people performing tricks on the pavement.The beggar could be a pavement trickster in that you don’t know if it is a person lying there or if it is something that is part of the pavement. The appearance of the beggar tricks you into seeing other things.
9 I thought it then a good composition and glibly called it “The Man in the Street”The poet thought it was a good photo.He gave it the title of “The man in the Street” as if it is a work of art.glibly: shallow, lack of though, superficial, thoughtless attitude.The poet gave the picture a name without thinking what the picture was about and without thinking what he was doing.Then: the word then implies the poet now feels differently from when he gave the photo a title.
10 remarking how typical it was of India that the man in the street lived there.He has an uncaring attitude towards the beggar. He thinks it is India’s problem and not he. He thinks it is part of India’s character to have people sleeping in the street and he should accept it.
11 His head in the posture of one weeping into a pillow chides me now for myHe has taken time to study the photo.He looked at the posture of the beggar: the body position of the beggar.It seems to him as if the beggar is crying. The beggar looks like a person who is crying into his pillow.This position chides him.chide: reproaches him, tells him off.The position of the body accuses him of behaving inappropriately.
12 presumption at attempting to compose art of his hunger and solitudeThe position of the body accuses him of behaving inappropriately.He behaved inappropriately because he tried to turn somebody’s suffering into art.presumption: rudenes or arrogance.solitude: loneliness.
13 IronyThe whole poem is ironic. He tried to fix his mistake of turning suffering into art with a photo by writing a poem about it. Now he has done it twice. The poem is also a piece of art.
14 decomposition: pun (two meanings) The photo is artistically not good anymore or the beggar is literally decomposing on the pavement.