Monday, February 28, 2011

Family Matters

Fleur Adcock is the poet of “The Video.” She brings a sense of humor to poetry, a literary form that is often assumed to be very serious. This particular poem recounts the birth of her younger sister, Laura. Her dad had videotaped the event, and all the while the middle sister, Ceri, was excited by the action. The thought of having a new little sister excited her. But when Laura is born, Ceri is no longer the center of the attention. She watches the video in reverse so she can see Laura go back into her mom.

Theodore Roethke wrote the poem, “My Papa’s Waltz”. The speaker in the poem talks about his abusive, alcoholic father. He describes his constant vying for his father’s love and the abuse he receives as a waltz. Roethke uses an alternating abab rhyme scheme to emphasize the continuous dance between the two.

The final poem this week is “(Untitled)” by Peter Meinke. This poem also describes an abusive relationship between father and son. In contrast to the previous, the father is apologizing to his son for abusing him. He feels guilty for shattering the self confidence of a beautiful boy he loves so much for no reason other than his own impatience.

The three poems share a theme of family relations. Family members tend to have mixed feelings about each other. They have an unbreakable love for each other, but can often express it in critical ways. Ceri in a moment of selfishness wishes her sister were never born. Roethke’s loves his father but fears him and his blows. Meinke shows his love for his son by getting easily frustrated with him. All three poems encourage family members to express their feelings for each other in the current moment, as they feel them. Telling someone you love them can build their self-esteem and create stronger relationships.

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