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Compare the ways that poets write about parent-child relationships in at least four of the poems you have studied.

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Introduction

Compare the ways that poets write about parent-child relationships in at least four of the poems you have studied. In 'Before you were mine' by Carol Ann Duffy, '*Mother...' by Simon Armitage, 'On my First Sonne' by Ben Jonson and 'The Song of the Old Mother' by WB Yeats the theme of parent-child relationships is explored. However, each poem makes a different comment about this relationship and the tensions it can create. Parent-child relationships can bring joy and security but also pain and restrictions. The title of the poem 'Before you were mine' instantly tells the reader that the relationship here may be unbalanced. The speaker of the poem is somewhat possessive, the word 'mine' suggesting ownership. The relationship between mother and daughter is explored further by the speaker's reference to her mother's life before her birth: I'm ten years away from the corner you laugh on with your pals, Maggie McGeeney and Jean Duff. (ll.1-2) The poem is divided into four stanzas, the first two deal with events before the speaker's birth. This surprising idea implies a certain inevitability; the way the mother lived was bound to end. However, these first two stanzas could also portray a closeness between the two, as the child has knowledge of her mother's earlier life, knowing her friends names. ...read more.

Middle

The mother keeps him grounded whilst he 'flies like a kite' and is free. The poem also plays with the sonnet form but again the poet breaks the 14th line to create a 15th, 'to fall or fly'. This emphasises that the speaker is unsure whether he can survive the break from his mother. The alliteration also stresses this uncertainty. There is an irregular rhyme scheme in the poem. Rhyme is used to connect things. At the beginning of the poem there is more rhyme such as 'floors' and 'doors'. This mirrors the close connection between them. As the speaker moves further away, rhyme is abandoned. It is only reintroduced at the end of the poem, suggesting that he is beginning to find his own way. Rhyme is also used to connect things in 'On My first Sonne': 'Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy; My sinne was too much hope of thee, lov'd boy' (ll.1-2) In this poem, Jonson does not use rhyme to show the connection between himself and his son but to portray that he associated his 'boy' with 'joy'. Jonson lost his son at just 'seven yeeres', in fact he lost all his children before they reached adulthood. ...read more.

Conclusion

The monotony of this life can also be seen in the regular rhythm and rhyme scheme; it is regular, always the same. In contrast, the young 'lie long and dream', complaining about the simplest things. The old mother sees them as 'idle' and is bitter at her lost youth: While I must work because I am old, And the seed of the fire gets feeble and cold. (ll. 9-10) 'Old' and 'cold' are linked through rhyme here, perhaps suggesting the mother is nearing death. The reference to 'seed' may imply that she is no longer able to conceive. The last line also links back to the fire in line two, making the poem circular to mirror the old mother's life and work. All four poems explore the parent-child relationship in different ways and using a range of poetic techniques. To Duffy, the mother-child relationship is a close one, but perhaps leads to regret and restrictions on the mother. This idea is echoed in Yeats' poem where the mother is also bitter at her lost youth. In contrast, 'On my first Sonne' is a moving poem about the death of a child. The message here is again of regret but for different reasons. Finally, '*Mother...' explores the tension between security and freedom in the mother-son relationship, using metaphor. It seems clear that parent-child relationships are full of contradictions, bringing both joy and sadness, security and freedom, closeness and regret. ...read more.

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