Poetic Analysis Of To A Sad Daughter Written By Michael Ondaatje

978 words - 4 pages

Professor DEnglish 1001February 1st, 2010Poetic analysis of To a Sad DaughterThe poem, "To a Sad Daughter" written by Michael Ondaatje, sends a powerful message regarding a father's love, and his hockey idolizing daughter. Through analysis it is clear that Ondaatje does not use many overt poetic devices, but his subtle figurative language and specific word choice makes for an extremely effective poem. His decision to use common language and keep it simple helps to relate and understand his emotions for his daughter. In order to make the connection between the author's motive in the poem, and its effectiveness through analysis- one must first understand the context of the poem.The poem appears to be written by a single father, to his only child (daughter), in hopes to help "you delicately step into the wild world" (62-63). She is certainly not the most typical sixteen year old girl; she idolizes a predominantly male sport and actually enjoys the aspect of "cuts and wounds- all this pleases you" (6-7). The father asks his daughter to be patient with him as he tries to open up and explain real life and all its possibilities to her: "Id rather be your closest friend than your father, I'm not good at advice you know that, but ride the ceremonies until they grow dark." (39-43). The father reveals his unconditional love for his daughter early in the poem, "I like all your faults even your purple moods" (15-16) and is clear that nothing means more to him than his daughter. Ondaatje describes these feelings as "like" instead of "love" for his daughter, only to avoid her from being embarrassment. Ondaatje later reestablishes his aspirations for his daughter to go fully through life and "Step delicately / into the wild world / and your real prize will be / the frantic search. / Want everything. If you break / break going out not in." (65-70). He explains to his daughter that she must strive to reach her potential in life, and that it is better to go out after something and fail, than not trying at all. Ondaatje has clear originality in his work, but it can be most appreciated when connected with his subtle use of poetic devices, figurative language and style."To a Sad Daughter" is a free verse poem written in first person narration from the father's point of view; it has eight stanzas and does not follow any rhyme scheme. The poet has a difficult task of writing about a unique experience that only a father-daughter can share; it is extremely effective being written in free verse because the family bond is not governed by rules or structure, so neither should the poem. Ondaatje establishes flow with sentence-like poetry and has good use of alliteration for smooth reading (Answers.com): "One day I'll come swimming / beside your ship or someone will / and if you hear the siren / listen to it." (26-29), and also in, "One afternoon I stepped /...

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