Themes: Parent/Child Relationship, Love, Loss

Type: Free Verse


  • Written by Alice Walker – awarded Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (The Colour Purple)
  • The poet wrote this poem at an age where most people face a new phase in life
  • This poem is partly about the sadness at the loss of a father and the regrets the daughter has but also an appreciation and celebration of what he has given her & she has inherited
  • The poem is about parental love


  • The first verse expresses how much she missed her father – simple, direct language, a combined sense of love and loss
  • The second verse describes how writing cheques and deposit slips remind her of him
  • There is a change in mood after the second announcement of “How I miss my father”
  • It turns from her current prosperity to his advice to a more playful and joyous stream of recollections
  • In the final third of the poem, she tells us the domestic chores and simple pleasures in life link her to that of her father.


  • She uses simple, direct language
  • It is written in free (or blank) verse – suits the conversational, informal mood
  • Enjambment gives the effect of free-flowing thought patterns
  • Simile – cooking yoga
  • Informal and familiar


  • The first two-thirds of the poem has a tone of regretful longing
  • The tone is conversational
Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "Poem at Thirty-Nine – Alice Walker: Poem Analysis," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2019,

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