Father To Son Poem Summary in English by Elizabeth Jennings

Father To Son Poem Summary in English by Elizabeth Jennings.

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Father To Son Poem Summary in English by Elizabeth Jennings

About the Poet Elizabeth Jennings

Name  Elizabeth Jennings
Born 18 July 1926, Boston, United Kingdom
Died 26 October 2001, Bampton, United Kingdom
Education St Anne’s College, Oxford High School
Awards Cholmondeley Award
Elizabeth Jennings - father to son poem summary in english
Elizabeth Jennings

Father To Son Central Idea of the Poem

The central idea of the poem is the generation gap which occurs when the communication link between two generations breaks due to a mutual lack of understanding, tolerance and acceptance. The poem reveals an internal conflict that a father undergoes when his son grows up and possesses his own interests, ideas and perceptions. The unhappy father complains that he cannot understand his child despite having lived together, for so many years in the same house. Instead of bonding together, they have drifted apart. The gap has resulted in non-communication and non- understanding of each other. If both of them decide to take a lead and are willing to forget and forgive, their relationship may improve. Respecting each other’s differences is the only way out to diminish the distance between parents and children.

Father To Son Poem Summary in English

Father To Son Stanza Wise Explanation of The Poem

Stanza 1
I do not understand this child
Though we have lived together now
In the same house for years. I know
Nothing of him, so try to build
Up a relationship from how
He was when small.

Word Meanings
understand – know
for years – for many years
build up – develop
Explanation The father unhappily reflects on his inability to understand his own son. They have been staying in the same house for years but, due to non- communication and a lack of understanding, both son and father are not able to understand each other. The father does not know much about his son’s interests, likes or dislikes. Thus, he try to build up the same kind of relationship as he used to have when his son was a little child. The father has now perhaps realised that there is a lack of understanding between his son and himself and he wants to take measures so that their relationship improves.

Stanza 2
Yet have I killed
The seed I spent or sown it where
The land is his and none of mine?
We speak like strangers, there’s no sign
Of understanding in the air.
This child is built to my design
Yet what he loves I cannot share.

Word Meanings
strangers – unknown to each other
sign – indication
in the air – known
cannot share – do not

Explanation The father wonders whether it is he himself who is responsible for the failure of the relationship. The father feels that though the child is his son but perhaps he lives in a world different from him. Both father and son behave like strangers. There is lack of understanding and a communication gap which makes them behave not like father and son but more like strangers. The father says that physically the child resembles him but he does not appreciate what his son likes.

Stanza 3
Silence surrounds us. I would have
Him prodigal, returning to
His father’s house, the home he knew,
Rather than see him make and move
His world. I would forgive him too,
Shaping from sorrow a new love.

Word Meanings
silence – here it means lack of communication
surrounds – everywhere, all over
prodigal – extravagant, wasteful
move his world – shift to newer avenues
shaping from sorrow – making something new

Explanation: Silence surrounds their relationship because there is a complete lack of communication between them. The father sees his son as a prodigal (meaning, a child who foolishly mns away from home) and wants him to return to the home he has always known, so that they can rebuild the relationship to have a new start. He does not want the son to start life afresh without the father. He further says that he is willing to forgive his son for running away. Here the father’s tone is somewhat condescending, implying that the father is unable to let his son go, despite restricting the son’s independence and development.

Stanza 4
Father and son, we both must live
On the same globe and the same land,
He speaks: I cannot understand
Myself, why anger grows from grief.
We each put out an empty hand,
Longing for something to forgive.

Word Meanings:
same globe – this world
grows from grief – develops from deep sorrow
put out – extend
longing – desiring keenly or strongly

Explanation: Both fathers and their sons all over the world must learn to live together in spite of their misunderstandings and differences. At this point in the poem, the son speaks for the first time and admits that he too feels the sadness of the broken relationship, but he is angry due to his confusion. Both father and son want to forgive each other, but neither is ready to take the first step of asking for forgiveness from the other. However, the situation can improve if they find a way of getting closer to each other.

Father To Son Poetic Devices Used in the Poem

Antithesis: In this figure of speech two contrasting or opposing ideas are put together. For example
(a) The land is his and none of mine
(b) Shaping from sorrow a new love

Alliteration: This indicates occurrence or repetition of the same sound or letter at the beginning or most of the words in a sentence. For example
(a) Silence surrounds us
(b) The seed I spent or sown
(c) The home he knew
(d) Shaping from sorrow

Metaphor: In this figure of speech, an implied comparison is made between two unlike things that actually have something in common. For example
(a) The land is his and none of mine
(b) We both must live on the same globe and the same land

Synecdoche: In this figure of speech a part is made to represent the whole or vice-versa. For example
(a) – Make and move his world

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