With Close reference to at least two poems, examine how the poets have
explored the theme of parent-child separation.
In your response you should deal with
* The contexts of the poems.
* The contrasts and similarities in the poet's methods and
* The use of language.
* You personal reaction to the poems including your preference.
Many poems have been written on the basic theme of parent-child
separation. I have chosen to write about two poems. The first of these
is "The Slave Mother" written by Frances E.W. Harper, written in the
mid 1800's. It explores the idea of a black slave mother having her
son stolen from her. The second poem I will study is "Walking Away" by
C. Day Lewis. Both show the difficulties of Parent-Child separation.
However "The Slave Mother" is much more violent and disturbing as
oppose to "Walking Away" where there is no mention of violence at all.
Frances E. W Harper wrote "The Slave Mother" at a time when blacks
were being severely discriminated against. Society and American Law at
the time promoted slavery. She was orphaned as a child and therefore
has some background on parent-child separation as, similarly to
"Walking Away", it is an experience she has gone through. Harper was
totally against this and therefore used a polemical style of writing,
as she wanted to point out this controversial issue to the public and
to persuade people against it. Harper had a pioneering spirit and was
prepared to be the first of a kind. She was an active part in the
anti-slavery movement and used various poems including "The Slave
Mother" to get her point across. When she was speaking up for what she
believed her poetry became part of her efforts to campaign against
slavery. "The Slave Mother" is written in ballad form. Harper may have
used this form of writing to get her point across quickly to her
listeners the evil of slavery and the outcomes from it. She has also
written it in an abcb rhyme scheme. This would help people who were
listening to her remember the poem easier and therefore would have a
greater effect on them. C. Day Lewis wrote about a personal
experience- when his son left home to move on, a she grew up. He is
able to write clearly about parent-child separation as it is something
that he has experienced. We can see that this event has made lasting
effect on the poet as he is actually dedicating this poem to his son.
This also helps to show the personal issue in it between the father
In each poem the poets have used different methods to explore the
theme of Parent-Child separation. From the title of "the Slave Mother"
we can see that this is going to be a saddening poem. Harper sues
paradoxes, repetition and her use of moving language to explore the
theme of Parent-Child separation. Another techniqueshe uses is to make
the first and last stanzas quite similar with a few differences. For
example the first line of both talks about a "shriek"....