The narrator imagines his parents as young and preparing a picnic in an idyllic scene. The narrator is on an opposite bank to his parents who encourage him to join them. This could be based off a real memory, a fantasy or the narrator on the brink of death.

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Ideas and Themes:

  • Family relationships
  • Memory
  • Distance

Structure:

  • First 3 stanzas are describing his parents and his fondness for them.
  • 4th and 5th stanzas parents talk to him about him joining them

Form:

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  • Poem has 5 stanzas mostly 4 lines long. Every line has nearly 10 syllables. This regular structure reflects steady relationship with parents.
  • Final line separated from others to show his separation from parents.
  • Have half rhymes which create a gentle and natural rhythm.

Language:

  • “Eden Rock”- reference to Garden of Eden which was a perfect place so his parents could be in that perfect place now. But the inhabitants were punished for disobedience
  • “My father, 25…My mother, 23”– introductions mirror each other and shows closeness
  • “Same suit…Still two years”- Memory language shows his pleasure in recounting details
  • “The stiff white cloth”– White could symbol purity; it’s a heavenly and angelic colour
  • “Takes on the light”- The light in his mother’s hair is an angelic image
  • “Pours tea from a thermos…Old H.P sauce bottle…paper for a cork”- Detailed description signify their importance and the affection he has for the way his parents did things.
  • “slowly sets out” Parent’s actions are slow and tranquil showing they are at peace
  • “The sky lightens as if lit by three suns”- hints at something otherworldly which contrasts with the first few stanzas. 3 suns could show family of 3 is reunited. Heavenly image
  • “Leisurely, they beckon to me” Enjambment shows a pause in which imitates the leisurely way his father call out to him.
  • “Over the drifted stream…stream-path” This could be a death metaphor. The stream is peaceful which suggests he’ll have no trouble crossing over or killing himself.
  • “Crossing is not as hard as you may think” typical of parents to encourage. Could be saying that death is painless
  • “I had not thought it would be like this”. Monosyllabic language shows a child-like simplicity. This last line is ambiguous. We don’t know what “it” is. Could be death or his parents
READ:
Morley Callaghan "They Shall Inherit the Earth": Summary & Analysis

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