English lit poetryyyyyyWatch
Compare the ways that family relationships are presented in Eden Rock and one other poem.
They are waiting for me somewhere beyond Eden Rock:
My father, twenty-five, in the same suit
Of Genuine Irish Tweed, his terrier Jack
Still two years old and trembling at his feet.
My mother, twenty-three, in a sprigged dress
Drawn at the waist, ribbon in her straw hat,
Has spread the stiff white cloth over the grass.
Her hair, the colour of wheat, takes on the light.
She pours tea from a Thermos, the milk straight
From an old H.P. sauce-bottle, a screw
Of paper for a cork; slowly sets out
The same three plates, the tin cups painted blue.
The sky whitens as if lit by three suns.
My mother shades her eyes and looks my way
Over the drifted stream. My father spins
A stone along the water. Leisurely,
They beckon to me from the other bank.
I hear them call, 'See where the stream-path is!
Crossing is not as hard as you might think.'
I had not thought that it would be like this.
In both ‘Eden Rock’ and ‘Mother, Any Distance’, family relationships are presented as loving, benefitting both children and parents as well, whilst also illustrating the other side of family relationships are difficult to maintain, especially due to distance.
In ‘Eden Rock’, Causley explores family relationships through the use of natural imagery, representing it as affectionate and loving. Throughout the poem, a particular semantic field is established pertinent to the idea of innocence and love. The mother’s hair is of the colour of ‘wheat’ and the cloth used is ‘white’, thus by using these specific colours, Causley established a sense of innocence and purity, representing family relationships as tender and gentle, however it could be argued that the use of this natural imagery may mirror how natural loving one another in a family is. The use of the specific colour scheme may have been purposefully used to serve as an embodiment of heaven, perhaps illustrating that this family relationship is wholesome enough to be heavenly and thus holy, evoking happiness in readers. Since Causley had lost his mother at an early age, this may cause readers to relate more to him on an intimate level, thus increasing meaning behind the poem and causing the readers to understand the poem on a personal level and perhaps reminisce memories of their childhood. Thus, Causley presents family relationships as loving as he used natural imagery.
Similarly, in ‘Mother, Any Distance’, family relationships are seen as loving and affectionate due to the effective use of the title. The noun ‘mother’ has connotations of nurturing and kindness, thus adding to the sense of family relationships being loving. Furthermore, the use of the determiner ‘any’ is extremely effective in portraying the extent the mother is willing to go to for her child, portraying the love in the family. Thus, Armitage has used the title to illustrate the affectionate nature of family relationships.
Moreover, in ‘Eden Rock’, family relationships can be seen as having a mutualistic effect on both the child and parent, benefitting both ends of the spectrum. A recurring motif within the poem that Causley has purposefully used is the idea of the ‘three suns’ and ‘three plates’ to symbolise the Holy Trinity. This therefore portrays family relationships as benefitting everyone as all members support one another. The idea of the number 3 suggests unity and togetherness, as all members of the family are included. The idea of the Holy Trinity illustrates that this family takes care of one another, and that they are each of equal importance, the same way the God, the Son and the Holy Spirit are equally as important as one another. Therefore, Causley has done this to illustrate that within a family, everyone benefits due to the sense of togetherness.
Similarly, Armitage also portrays a similar message through the use of short sentences to imply that family relationships benefit everyone. The mother and child are described as ‘anchor. Kite', whereby both nouns largely juxtapose each other, highlighting the difference, or perhaps distance between the pairs, however despite this, they are still able to support one another. The noun ‘anchor’ has connotations of sturdiness and strength as well as stability, whereas ‘kite’ has connotations of weakness and vulnerability. Armitage has purposefully done this to illustrate that although the mother and child are at opposite ends of the spectrum, they still are able to help one another and resolve their issues. Also, it may illustrate that they use one another’s strengths to their advantage, as the child uses their mother’s strength to keep them rooted and perhaps even safe. Thus, Armitage has used this device to illustrate the mutualistic relationship within a family.
However, in ‘Eden Rock’, Causley presents family relationships as quite vulnerable to the idea of separation, in particular, distances. The particularly effective use of structure throughout the poem illustrates how sometimes, family relations can be weakened due to distances. Initially, the poem starts off with quatrains however as it develops, the last quatrain is split into a tercet and a line, which may be symbolic of the character’s past and present, that perhaps due to distances between them and their parents, their relationship is no longer as strong as it once used to be, and now it has caused them to be separated, evoking sadness in readers. Thus, Causley has done this to illustrate that distances can separate families, which can be painful and saddening on both ends.
In conclusion, both poets describe the advantages of family relationships as they provide a loving and caring environment for children, however Eden Rock creates a sense of sadness and nostalgia, and represents family relationships as sometimes vulnerable to distance.
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