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What is the true meaning of family? A support system. A unit that guides you through life. People that always have your best interest at heart. They are and will always be there for you. You are yourself around them and they never expect you to hold back. Joy and sorrow. Laughs and tears. All elements shared with family. This is not the case in all situations as seen in the poem elegy for my father’s father. Elegy for my father’s father is one stanza poem of sorrow and sadness.
A poem written by a man who hardly knew his grandfather. Thus the title elegy for my father’s father which brings out the detached mood.
The persona begins by telling the reader how they all knew this man died knowing he was emotionally detached from all those around him. He was an introvert and kept to himself. ‘O for all the tall tower broken memorial denied’ a sentence showing the little they had to remember him by.
There were no marks of him and there was very little to him. ‘And the unchanging cairn that pipes could set ablaze An aaronsrod and blossom. ‘ There was no tombstone and instead Just a pile of stones on top of his grave. I believe this shows the little respect they had for him.
They are not alone as nature also refuses to be one with him. No flower grows by his graveside. He is alone just like he was in real life.
‘They stood by his graveside from his bitter veins born And mourned him in their own fashion. ‘ The persona again describes his grandfather as a bitter angry man. The reader begins to get the immensity of anger that the persona has for his grandfather. The situation was so serious that his family did not know how to mourn him. There was no unity when they were mourning him and they as a result they all did it in their own ways.
‘A chain of sods in a day he could slice and build high as the head of a man And a flowering cherry tree On his walking shoulder held under the lion sun’ the persona finally gives an unexpected positive remark about this man. They honor his strength and endurance seen in his youth. He did intense amount of work and was able to accomplish it in the harshest of conditions. He was a ‘workaholic’. This could have been a way to ensure people kept off. The persona however jumps back into the negative comments. When he was old he had nothing to do except sit in his curved chair all day the kitchen fire.
Perhaps a sense of pity for him. His family watched him waste time he could have made so much out of. He was quiet and observant. He scrutinized every detail but he kept all his observations to himself. He confined his feelings and wisdom. He was very mysterious. A lot of imagery is used in the lines describing this. The last eleven lines of the poem are all imagery. They show how the old man never spoke in times of joy. ‘This heart had never spoken in song or bridal bed’ He was shockingly also distant to his wife. A person who he should have at least been able to trust and express himself to.
He was unable to reveal himself on his honeymoon. This shows how great his separation from all those around him was. The poem is of a mixed tone as there is an element of sorrow but at the same time there is celebration of life and reminiscing of the old man’s youthful days. The poet uses descriptive words that carry out the task of giving vivid illustration to the reader. The poem however does not have a flow as has no rhythm regularity. The poem is cyclic as the reader is taken through the old man’s life. The theme of family and its great impact on one’s life is seen throughout the poem.
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