The father recounts watching his son play football for the first time and feels worried about his son as he watches him walk away from him. 18 Years later he still feels upset but realizes that it’s part of nature and he must accept it.
Ideas and Themes:
- Family relationships
- Getting older
- The first 2 stanzas are about memory and the final 2 are about his pain.
- The final 2 lines conclude his point about his pain but also his acceptance
- The first-person narrative emphasizes first-person experiences.
- The use of enjambment and caesura contributes to a feeling of the poem, which sounds like natural speech. Regular ABACA rhyme scheme shows steadiness of parental love.
- Repetition of “A” rhyme scheme reflects how memory still pains him today
- “Almost to the day”- He remembers the exact day. Signifies importance.
- “Leaves just turning”- Transition from summer to autumns shoes turning point in son’s life
- “touch-lines new ruled”- New boundaries are being made with father and son with his new independence. Signifies the separation between them both
- “Like a satellite, wrenched from orbit go drifting”- Negative simile as satellites shouldn’t be in orbit. “Drifting” shows that the son is helpless and emphasizes how the father is not central in the son’s life anymore. “Wrenched” sounds forceful and shows separation was painful and sudden. Enjambment makes this sound unexpected.
- “away, behind a scatter of boys”- Enjambment shows that how boy turns away from father and goes towards his friends
- “Half-fledged thing set free” Bird metaphor shows he’s not ready to go yet
- “Who finds no path where the path should be” repetition of “path” shows how father wants son to find the right path. Sees him as helpless.
- “Like a winged seed loosed from its parent stem”- Natural simile contrasts with “wrenched” used earlier and shows fathers acceptance is rising and understands its nature.
- “Saying what God alone could perfectly show” Religious imagery shows that only God could let his son go. Showing it’s extremely difficult for humans to do so.
- “And how love is proved in the letting go”- steady and peaceful rhythm shows he’s reached a philosophical conclusion and he needs to prove his love and let him go