Elegy for my fathers father
By referring to him in these terms Baxter suggests that they did not have a relationship and the poetic voice really does not know the deceased at all.
The fact there is no obvious rhyming pattern could also be said to be indicative of the chaotic and free form nature of existence.
Elegy for my father poem
It is interesting that there is very little sense of the impact the females in his life had on the grandfather. There is absolutely no sense of familial love here — an inversion of the usual funeral formula. However, the last eight lines make the reader reconsider his life. In many ways this is a poem that deals with choices and regrets theme. In youth he was a man capable of many feats of physical strength, but his emotional weakness and inability to open up to those around him leaves him lonely and filled with regret as he approaches his end. However, the most depressing element of this is that he is alone, all day and every day, which no doubt gives him ample time to stew on his regrets. Though we must consider context AO1 at this point. It is epic, almost biblical language. This is somewhat unusual, indeed today it would be regarded as horribly tragic. As such I think it is worth considering that these observations need to be taken with a pinch of salt considered for the second-hand information they are and appreciated in this light.
Baxter is presenting a series of forceful statements of belief. And the unchanging cairn The pipes could set ablaze An aaronsrod and blossom.
Here Baxter brings us to this cold, silent graveside and allows us to imagine what might have been had things been different. They stood by the graveside From his bitter veins born And mourned him in their fashion.
Even though he could not see, he was alert to the changes in nature. The tongues of water spoke Upon his deathbed, the waves seem to speak to him, becoming a soothing presence instead of a terrifying one.
Moreover, the unstructured lines and the lack of rhyme scheme represent the absence of any kind of pattern in life.
Throughout this rollercoaster of a life, Baxter was prolific with his poetry and in his lifetime 35 different collections were published, with more posthumously.
You can never have too many alternatives. But he was a skilled farmer who could coax the land to produce its best.
Cold in the earth
Although Baxter or his poetic voice may never have really known this man, there is a sense of respect for someone who has lived their own life and found their own worth. The pride of his heart was dumb. In a sense the old man represents an iconoclastic ideal passing away. Whatever side of the argument you fall on, fear not. He would have been in his prime in the later part of the 19th Century. Surely such a guarded old man would have kept his own counsel the poem states as much. Yes — the blunt, raw statement speaks to the distance that clearly existed between the two family relationships — theme. However, the last eight lines make the reader reconsider his life. I will allude to several structural points as we work through the piece, yet for now it is enough to consider one over-arching issue and in doing so we will be linking structure and form to the intentions of the poet. Baxter will subtly invert what we expect from this type of poem. They stood by the graveside From his bitter veins born And mourned him in their fashion These few lines are the most ambiguous of the entire poem.
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