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In the following poems we see various interesting examples of parent-child relationships. Some are easier to relate to than others but most communicate the stages of parenthood and the challenges posed by becoming responsible for another person. The poets each take different lines on how they perceive/d parenthood and the each in which their children reacted.
In ‘Catrin’ a metaphor of an umbilical cord is used to symbolise the relationship between mother and daughter. It seems that Gillian Clarke feels that this relationship is one that can be “neither won nor lost” and a “struggle”.
She goes on to describe their everlasting attachment despite this temporary separation in terms of childbirth. She also says “from the heart’s pool that old rope, tightening around my life” her she is trying to reinforce her belief that her relationship with her daughter is everlasting as she discusses the implications of childbirth on her life. After evaluating the struggle she experiences she finally questions whether mother hood is right for her at this moment in her life.
This compares to ‘On my first Sonne'(OM)where the father experiences extreme grief on account of the broken connection between him and his Son. Ben Jonson describes his son as “[his] right hand and joy” and is evidently proud of his heir. However the poet makes what he feels is a fundamental realisation that his Son infact belongs to God. He actually feels that it was wrong of him to put “too much hope in thee[his son].
” In this case the connection was in fact temporary and says that the son does not belong to him but God.
Jonson struggles with this idea and momentarily accuses God of being unfair. He at one stage feels that he would have preferred to have had no connection/attachment to his son that have it cut short or disrupted. “O, could I loose all father, now.” In this poem Ben Jonson ends this poem with realisation of his mistake whereby Gillian Clarke ends Catrin in temporary confusion. She takes the parenting if her daughter as her responsibility while Ben Jonson admits that it isn’t his child and so the child’s fate is God’s matter but he insists that he will still do his paternal duty and love his son unconditionally.
In Follower and The Affliction of Margaret (AM) the connection between parent and child is slightly different. In AM the parent is lonely, isolated woman who has been left by her son. Like OM the mother feels that perhaps her overbearing nature is the reason for the disaster. We get the general feeling form the mother that she would like to re-establish a connection with her son.”No tiding of an only child” Margaret apologises and is willing to reconcile. She is one of the only parents in the four poems to admit her faults she is however not alone to worry about her son and fear for his development in the outside world.
In Follower the son is connected to his father when he is young doing such activities as “[he]rode me on his back”. It is important to understand that the child is in awe of his father’s strength and the use of various metaphors show the father portrayed as “globed.”
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