Linda Pastan’s poem, “For a Daughter Leaving Home,” displays how a parent views the life of his or her daughter by relating it to their daughter’s first bicycle ride. Her bicycle ride represents the difficult and stressful journey that the girl has embarked on throughout her life. Although the girl is now grown up and ready to start a life of her own, her parent is recalling everything about the girl’s life up to this point.
The author, Linda Pastan, was born on in1932, on May 27 in New York City, New York. She was the only child of Jacob L. Olenic, a surgeon, and Bess Olneic. She had a relatively normal life growing up. Her parents were from European Jewish descent, but because of their atheistic views, they sent their daughter to a school in Riverdale called Fieldston School. This is “a progressive private school affiliated with the Ethical Cultural Society, a humanist organization for free-thinking Jews” (Johnson 1). Later in life she married Ira Pastan who was a medical student, he later became a molecular biologist, and together they bore three children—Stephen, Peter, and Rachel. The recognition and achievements in education that Pastan received were bountiful. She got her bachelor’s Degree in Literature from Radcliffe in 1954. She then graduated from Simmons College in 1955 with Master of Library. In 1957, she received her master’s degree in English from Brandeis University. Her awards and recognitions are described below:
She has won a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Maryland Arts Council grant, as well as several literary awards: Mademoiselle’s Dylan Thomas Poetry Award, the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, the Bess Hokin Prize, and the Maurice English Award. PM/AM was nominated for an American Book Award in 1983. In 1991, Pastan was named Poet Laureate of Maryland, serving until 1995 (Paul 1).
As the title suggests, the poem, “For a Daughter Leaving Home,” was written for daughters leaving home. It is the reflection of parents on the life of their daughter. The speaker of the poem could be either a father or a mother who is reminded of his or her daughter’s first bicycle ride whenever she is leaving home, maybe for her first date, college, etc. The occasion would be whenever a daughter is going anywhere without her parents, or she is growing up in general. The setting is at a park on an afternoon. The only people involved in the poem would be a parent and a young girl.
Pastan displays a parent remembering when his or her daughter was being taught to ride a bicycle in lines 1-10. They were guiding the bike while running next to the girl, when she started to pull away and ride for herself. This represents how throughout the first years of a girls’ life she is being guided by her mother or father, but when she reaches a certain age she is no longer in need of their help. In lines 11-17, the parent is nervously waiting for his or her daughter to crash, but the daughter is still peddling, getting faster and more...