Thursday, January 5, 2017

Analysis of "Child" By David Mason


This is a question and response poem.  Question and response is a rhetorical device that plays with anticipation,  When the question is asked, the reader naturally assumes there will be something to answer; however, the first thing that I noted with the question was how condescending it reads, "Does it make you sad to see the close / of the family romance"

Maybe I'm reading the tone wrong, but with the poem called "Child" and the first question being so probing that it feels like an attack on emotions like, "oh are you sad that you didn't get an ice cream cone -- how tragic."  There's a sense of irony and sarcasm with the first two lines for me plus the content  of close of the family romance adds a tinge of bitterness which feels directed towards the child.

"to know the house is grounded in the flow / and left to chance / by currents you never had control of?"  Yes, the image of the broken home as a natural disaster is a common comparison; however, I noted the pun of "currents" as a flow and a time frame.  Also the way the sentence is framed, the tone of condescension continues -- oh you never had control versus currents you lost control of.  To me, such a simple twist of a few words adds to the sarcasm, bitterness and tension of the question which continues to the "answer" of the poem.

"Well, I could say / I'm sorry till the last of all our days."  It's not the act of saying sorry that's being focused on, but rather the intent and meaning behind the apology.  The tone sounds dismissive based on how casual the initial response is, "well, I could say I'm sorry" or "does it make you sad"

Then to parallel the disaster nature imagery, the poem ends with a more grounded image, "My flesh is feeling clay / eroded by more tides than I can blame / or bring myself to name."  It is the flesh that feels the clay, not the speaker.  The clay is eroded by the tides.  What does the clay represent?  Not the speaker as the sentence clearly separates the two.  The clay and the tides are the ruse -- the focus should be on "I can blame or bring myself to name."

It's not an emotional epiphany.  I feel that the forced rhyme continues the sarcasm.  That it's not the realizing that he's holding back something; rather, the speaker is holding back in spite to keep the blame going like the tides.  And to actually name them would invalidate the experience, the bitter sarcasm, the truthful bitterness.

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