LitScope: My Hero by Willis Hall
For Malaysian Form 2 Students.
My dad’s as brave as a dad can be,
I rate him Number One,
He’s not afraid of the dead of night,
Or anything under the sun.
He’s not afraid of a late-night film,
Full of horrors on the telly,
And is he afraid of skeletons?
Not dad, not on your Nelly!
He’s not afraid of meeting ghosts,
He’s even smile and greet ‘em,
And things that scare most dads the most,
My dad could just defeat ‘em.
He’s not afraid of vampires,
Or a wolf-man come to get him,
If Frankenstein’s monster knocked on our door,
He wouldn’t let that upset him.
My dad’s brave as a dad can be,
And he’s always ready to prove it.
So why, when a spider’s in the bath,
Does Mum have to come and remove it?
The Poet: Willis Hall
- English playwright and radio and television writer
- Born in Hunslet, Leeds.
- Served as a signals corporal in Malaya.
- Wrote plays for Chinese children that were later broadcast on Radio Malaya and designed sets for Singapore Little Theatre.
- His play, The Long and the Short and the Tall, won the Evening Standard’s Play of the Year Award in 1959.
- Adapted Keith Waterhouse’s novel Billy Liar into a stage play.
Sourced from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willis_Hall
What are the stanzas about?
The persona claims his father is brave and is not afraid of anything, from late night hours to anything possible. The persona is proud of this, naming his father Number One.
The persona begins to list down things that the father is not scared of, beginning with horror films and skeletons.
The persona goes on to say that his father is not afraid of ghosts, and would have the courage to greet them with a smile. The persona exaggerates that his father could subdue all the things that other dads would be afraid of.
The persona gives more examples of things his father does not fear, and claims that even Frankenstein’s monster wouldn’t make him lose his courage.
The persona emphasises on his father’s bravery, and believes that his father can prove it anytime. However, the persona is puzzled when his father needs his mother’s help to remove a spider, revealing his father’s phobia of spiders, proving that his father is not as brave as the persona thinks.
So what is the whole poem about?
This poem is about a young child who looks up to their father as this formidable force that is unafraid of anything and everything possible. To prove this, the child lists out a string of horrors that most people would fear to emphasize it. However, it is revealed in the last stanza that the father does fear something –spiders. This goes to show that the father, despite his child’s depiction as a fearless person, does fear something after all.
As this is from a child’s point view, repetition of phrases and the usage of colloquialisms add to the simple minded admiration of the persona’s father. We can see the child’s imagination run wild too, as he imagines his father smiling and greeting ghosts. We also see a comical yet ironical side to the child’s narrative, as the last stanza brings the image of the courageous father crashing to the ground with the final revelation that he is afraid of spiders.
The child’s innocent hero-worship of the father is evident throughout the poem. The child admires the father’s courage and takes great pains to illustrate it to the reader. Through his narrative, we can even feel the child’s pride in the father as well. Even when the father’s phobia of spiders is revealed, the child is merely confused and is left wondering why, his admiration unwaveringly intact.