The Ball Poem: Explanation and Analysis in English and Hindi Class 10 English

‘The Ball Poem’ is explained here with literal and figurative meanings. The explanation is stanza wise in both, English and Hindi. A video tutorial is also given with the explanation of the poem ‘The Ball Poem’ in Hindi with poetic devices.

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The Ball Poem Explanation & Analysis


‘The Ball Poem’ Video Tutorial

The Ball Poem Class 10 English

Central Idea

The Ball Poem was written by John Berryman. In the poem, the poet describes the grief of a young boy over the loss of his ball. The poet deals with the undertones of loss and responsibility, which teaches a person to be strong and accept the reality and move on in life.

‘The Ball Poem’ Text

What is the boy now, who has lost his ball,
What, what is he to do? I saw it go
Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then
Merrily over — there it is in the water!
No use to say ‘O there are other balls’:

An ultimate shaking grief fixes the boy
As he stands rigid, trembling, staring down
All his young days into the harbour where
His ball went. I would not intrude on him;
A dime, another ball, is worthless.

Now He senses first responsibility
In a world of possessions. People will take
Balls, balls will be lost always, little boy.
And no one buys a ball back. Money is external.

He is learning, well behind his desperate eyes,
The epistemology of loss, how to stand up
Knowing what every man must one day know
And most know many days, how to stand up.


Stanza-Wise Explanation


Stanza One

What is the boy now, who has lost his ball,
What, what is he to do? I saw it go
Merrily bouncing, down the street, and then
Merrily over — there it is in the water!
No use to say ‘O there are other balls’:

The poet begins the poem by telling about a young boy. For the first time in his young life, he has learnt a big lesson, which is to bear the grief of a loss of a loved possession, his ball. The boy loses his ball and sees it bouncing down the street into the water.

The ball symbolises the childhood memories. It is a valued possession of the boy and now it is gone. The ball must have been with the boy for a long time and that’s why he is sad over its loss.

The poet realises that it is of no use to console the boy with other balls since the boy wants the same ball only because of his attachment to it.

Stanza Two

An ultimate shaking grief fixes the boy
As he stands rigid, trembling, staring down
All his young days into the harbour where
His ball went. I would not intrude on him;
A dime, another ball, is worthless.

When the ball bounces down the street into the water, the boy stands fixed with grief. He remains standing stiff and trembling, staring at the water.

When the ball goes into the water all his childhood memories come back to him and he realises that the moments that are gone would never come back, just like the ball. The poet refrains himself from offering some money to buy another ball because it would be worthless.

Stanza Three

Now He senses first responsibility
In a world of possessions. People will take
Balls, balls will be lost always, little boy.
And no one buys a ball back. Money is external.

The poet says that in that instant the boy realises his first sense of responsibility. He says that from the loss of ball the boy has learnt how it feels to lose one’s loved possession. The loss is immaterial and money can’t buy memories and moments. Money cannot replace the things that really matter to us.

Stanza Four

He is learning, well behind his desperate eyes,
The epistemology of loss, how to stand up
Knowing what every man must one day know
And most know many days, how to stand up.

The poet says that the boy is learning from the loss of his ball, how to bear the grief of loss of possessions. He is learning how it feels to lose something. Everybody has to stand up after such losses and the boy will also learn to stand up and leave his grief of loss behind and understand the true meaning of loss.


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