Ann Bradstreet

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The poem is clearly suggesting children as being the pride and joy of a parent but upon more thought it could be argued that the poet is really mocking parents who believe their child to be the perfect image of themselves. The tone is also frustrated in places such as “(… I cannot write, unless he’s sent above! )” which contrasts with the “Little epitome of man! ” and the difference in tone shows off the contrast between the idealist and realistic perceptions of parenthood. Despite this there are still hints of concern amidst the humour, for example the line “(He really brings my heart into my mouth!)” shows Hood’s worry for his son’s safety and parallels with the panicked tone of “Upon My Son Samuel… “.

The language in “Upon My Son Samuel… ” is mostly plain and everyday for the time of the poet as it’s a prayer from her to God and was not written for other people to read. Therefore it’s very genuine and shows the poet’s true innermost feelings. However in lines such as “Thou mighty God of sea and land,” which addresses God directly, the language is formal and grandiose to show her respect to God.

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The language is also heavily punctuated which slows the pace and gives each part of the line more importance, showing how much this prayer means to her. The language is much more eloquent and somewhat hyperbolic in “A Parental Ode… ” and the poet uses bathos liberally to show the contrast between different aspects of parenthood. Lines like “Thou idol of thy parents” show the poet almost worshipping his child whereas the lines within brackets such as “(Drat the boy! There goes my ink!)” give a more direct insight to his true feelings and show his annoyance at being constantly disturbed by his mischievous son.

There are also many similes, metaphors and mystical imagery such as “Thou happy, happy elf! ” and “Thou cherub but of earth;” in the non-bracketed parts to make the language even more adorned and elevated, but this is opposed by bracketed lines like “(I wish that window had an iron bar! )”. The juxtaposition reiterates the different sides to parental feelings and contributes to showing the reader the reality of being a parent.

“Upon My Son Samuel…” is a prayer made up of octosyllabic rhyming couplets. This regular rhythm helps to speed the reader along so we can feel her rush of words to try and persuade God to save her son, further highlighting her panic and concern. “A Parental Ode… ” on the other hand has no regular rhythm and has a varied rhyming pattern in different stanzas. This parallels with the unpredictability of childhood and perhaps how the parent is always trying to regulate the child with rules and routines but never succeeding completely in restraining the carefree nature of childhood.

Both these poems are monologues so we only hear from the speaker. This helps us to focus on their particular feelings and share in only their emotions. “Upon My Son Samuel… ” can be internal or dramatic as the poet is not necessarily speaking the prayer out loud. However no matter which type of monologue it is it’s still a true reflection of the poet’s thoughts due to the fact it was not intended for anyone but God to hear. “A Parental Ode… ” is in the form of and ode and was originally written to praise the son.

Even so the poet cannot help but add in the bracketed lines to put across the real life scenes of having a child and we can see that the lines within brackets are the ones which truly reflect his thoughts at the time. Overall the two poems both agree that worry and anxiety are the main things a parent feels towards their child. However “A Parental Ode… “, being written by a father in the Victorian times, seems more detached from being involved in looking after his child and the bathos makes it very flippant.

In “Upon My Son Samuel… ” the genuine nature and pathos created help us experience a much stronger connection emotionally between the poet and her son. Therefore I feel “Upon My Son Samuel… ” is much more successful in conveying the true feelings of being a parent.


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