All of our poems for Thursday are about parenthood — but more specifically, they explore the parental relationship to a child, a relationship that sometimes begins even before birth, and can even shape the lives of non-parents (as in the speaker of Hopkins’s poem, who might not even be related to the young child addressed there). And another common thread of these poems is the suggestion that parenthood, or its prospect, inevitably brings some sense of mourning, regret, or longing alongside the joys it offers. The reasons for this effect differ for each speaker, of course, depending on their particular situation. For this post, choose one poem from among those by Hopkins, Clifton, and Olds. Then, using evidence, answer these questions: How would you characterize this speaker? What dimensions of the parental relationship seem to be causing the speaker’s mourning, regret, longing (or conflict, more simply put!) and why?
poems: Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Spring and Fall”; Lucille Clifton, “the lost baby poem”; Philip Larkin, “This be the verse”; Sharon Olds, “First Thanksgiving”; Ai, “Motherhood, 1951”