Friday, March 6, 2009

Parent's Pantoum by Carolyn Kizer

Comment on this, please :)

How would you describe the relationship between the daughter and her children?

A pantoum is composed of a series of stanzas with four lines called quatrains. The second and fourth line of the first stanza are used as the first and third of the next stanza. In the last stanza, the first line of the poem is used as the last line of the poem.

At the beginning of Parent's Pantoum, a concerned motherly voice speaks to us. She begins by asking us a question that almost seems desperate, "Where did these enormous children come from?". She realizes that her children have grown up so quickly and they have become," more ladylike that we have ever been," but they still walk in their "fragile heels," which I believe to symbolize their fragile nature in general. It seems that there is a disconnect between the mother and her children, and the fragile heels are possibly their relationship that is on the rocks.

As the poem continues, she seems to be complaining about her children. She realizes that they, "moan about their aging more than we do," and she seems to be frustruated that they can't stop and live for a while. I believe this might be a comment on the fact that the new generation is too uptight and that they can't slow down. Their life is always structured and rigid and it is hard for the older generation of parents to watch them become so busy. She wants her children to appreciate life more, "why don't they brighten up?"

She compares herself to stars, and I believe that maybe she still wants the spotlight, but she knows her life is dedicated to her daughters at that moment. She has to spend her life caring for them now, so they become, "second-childish."

I believe in general this poem is about the disconnect between the old generation of parents and the new generation of children. The children in the poem seem to not want anything to do with their parents, occasionaly throwing them, "morsels of their history," and the parents have a hard time relating to the kids because, "they never listen to their stories." But in the end, the speaker realizes that they are just mirrors of each other, but they are scared to admit that to the other one because they know it's true.

Listen! To Carolyn Kizer read the poem:


Kasey said...

I really like the analysis you made of this poem. I definitely agree that the author is talking about a generation gap between children and adults. It is as if we never see ourselves in our parents and vice versa, yet we are more alike than we want to admit. I think the author's realization at the end about the mirrors and that "we are offspring of our enormous children" is interesting. It's as if she is saying that while children are offspring of their parents, the relationship is reversed as well. What do you guys make of this?

Chris said...

She compares herself to stars, and I believe that maybe she still wants the spotlight, but she knows her life is dedicated to her daughters at that moment. She has to spend her life caring for them now, so they become, "second-childish."

What you said up there relates to what Kasey said. She is the one who wants to be the star. She wants to live her dream. The roles really have been reversed in this poem. Her children are like the patronizing parents and the parents merely become children to us during out adolescence. Kizer captures the true nature of adolescence and describes the selfishness of ourselves and the issues we moan about. "We offspring of our enormous children." is really an important because, like Kasey said, the roles have been reversed.

But, I feel as though the "mirror" she takes about may be herself talking to herself and talking about her childhood and how much she has grown as well. She is "avoiding mirrors" which may show that she finally looked into a mirror and saw what she has become.

Could that be another meaning?

Jaxon said...

Yeah, I really like that idea of the children becoming the parents. I've heard a lot of people talk about how their children teach them something new everyday, but they usually say that in a positive tone. This however, is kind of negative. She doesn't like the fact that her children teach her.

nabeel said...

I'd like to kind of jump off of what Kasey said. While I really liked your analysis of the poem I found something structurally that makes the "mirror" far more apparent. The speaker of the poem talks of enormous children and analyzes all of their faults and their moaning and their wishes for the speaker to be more like them. Now while it seems easy to call the speaker a parent, the speaker just as easily be a child. To a child a parent becomes nothing more than a larger child during adolescence, a time when couldn't children believe they are the same, if not better, as their parents. In this poem all of the lamentations of the "enormous children" are very common parental lamentations.

Through this kind of ambiguity Kizer is making the idea of the children becoming their parents a much stronger and far more precise point.

ashleigh said...

I really enjoyed this poem, and I thought it was funny because I often find myself dreading my mother and grandfathers stories because they NEVER END! But anyways, I think that the author is trying to emphasizing how sometimes young people don't appreciate their elders and the things they can teach us. The enormous children symbolize the youth today who have no time to learn from elders and are already "enormous/mature", and really don’t care about learning of our elder’s histories and stories. I also think that by referring to herself as “second childish”, she is emphasizing how young the youth make her feel by acting more mature than she does.