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An Explication Of "Late Poem To My Father."

949 words - 4 pages

"Late Poem to My Father"Sharon Olds.Suddenly I thought of youas a child in that house, the unlit roomsand the hot fireplace with the man in front of it,silent. You moved through the heavy airin your physical beauty, a boy of seven,helpless, smart, there were things the mandid near you, and he was your father,the mold by which you were made. Down in thecellar, the barrels of sweet apples,picked at their peak from the tree, rotted androtted, and past the cellar door the creek ran and ran, and something wasnot given to you, or something wastaken from you that you were born with, so thateven at 30 and 40 you set the oily medicine to your lipsevery night, the poison to help youdrop down unconscious. I always thought thepoint was what you did to usas a grown man, but then I remembered thatchild being formed in front of the fire, thetiny bones inside his soultwisted in greenstick fractures, the smalltendons that hold the heart in placesnapped. And what they did to youyou did not do to me. When I love you now,I like to think I am giving my lovedirectly to that boy in the fiery room,as if it could reach him in time."Late Poem to My Father", a poem by Sharon Olds, carries us on a insightful journey through forgiveness and acceptance. The author's ultimate destination is understanding - the understanding of her father through his life as a child.Initially, the title seemed to suggest th)at the father had passed away. The poet, it seemed, wished to express final thoughts to her father though it world be too "late," (as the title suggests), for him ever to receive them. Upon reading and critiquing the poem, though, I now see the title as expressing something deeper.In her poem, Olds expresses that each of us is created in out parent's image. Our parents "mold" and "form" us (8 and 21). A father's role in his child's life directly affects how his child will be as a parent.In the first line of this piece, Olds draws the reader in by her tone, almost as if a light bulb was turned on in her head; "Suddenly I thought of you." (1). This flash of light transports us to her father's childhood. The poet's word choice connotes that something negative or dark happened to him as a boy, abused in some way (6 and 7). This picture created, on of "unlit rooms," a "hot fireplace," and "heavy air," carries negative connotation about the boy's childhood experiences. "Heavy air" suggests that the boy was trapped and helpless.A man, silently standing in front of a fireplace, gives off a dark, eerie aura. The fireplace seems almost dangerous ("hot" and "fiery"), while the man in front appears to symbolize power. This power of the man, whom...

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