Composed by Elizabeth Jennings, this poem depicts the deteriorating relationship between a father and his son. The poem expresses the anguish and grief of a father who no longer shares a close relationship with his son. The poem depicts his attempts to reconcile and mend their broken relationship but in vain.
The poem can be read from two perspectives. The first perspective is of a father trying to maintain a cordial relationship with his son. The second is of a lonely man longing for companionship or friendship.
The father agonises about the emotional distance between him and his son. Although they shared a close son who was a child, they are now distant from each other even though they live in the same house. He sorrowfully accepts that he can no longer understand his son even though he tries to do so. He talks about not knowing what his son likes, even though they resemble each other physically. The communication gap between them makes them seem like strangers now.
The father longs for his son to be close to him rather than see him move away and build a world of his own. He also states that he is prepared to forgive his son and let his sorrow go, but it is not stated in the poem what exactly he wants to forgive his son for. In the end, the son tells his father what he feels. He expresses that he cannot understand himself, and he feels anger stemming from the grief within him. He wants to try to reciprocate his father's feelings but is unable to do so. So, in the end, the father and the son extend an "empty hand" towards each other as the beginning towards a path of reconciliation.
Talk to our expert