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Family Relationships in Walking Away and Eden Rock.

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Family Relationships in Eden Rock and Walking Away

Both poems, Eden Rock and Walking Away, are nostalgic poems that explore the perspectives of a parent-child relationship during separation. Both writers use a variety of features (including structure, language, rhyming scheme and form) to represent the separation and distance in a relationship in common and contrasting ways.

Firstly, both poems show the separation in a parent-child relationship; however, in Walking Away the parent struggles to let go whilst in Eden Rock it seems mutually pleasant. In Walking Away, the son is described as a ‘half-fledged thing’ which could show the vulnerability and fragility of the child as ‘half-fledged’ could indicate to the reader that the father doesn’t believe that the son is ready for the change yet. However, ‘half-fledged thing’ refers to a young bird; therefore, the natural imagery could remind the reader that nature also separates their parents from their children when the latter reach maturity. Furthermore, the separation is described ‘like a satellite wrenched from its orbit.’ The simile suggests that the child is a small being that is attached to the parent by a gravitational pull. The strong verb ‘wrenched’ demonstrates to the reader the difficult and unnatural nature of the parting which implies the suffering experienced by the father. The verb ‘wrenched’ also has connotations of danger which could convey to the reader that the child is no longer dependent on the father. Additionally, the father says that it still ‘gnaws at my mind’ which could show the pain experienced by the father of the distance between them and the child. The verb ‘gnaws’ amplifies the torment showing the deeply affected nature of the father suggesting to the reader that it is a raw and vivid memory. Conversely, in Eden Rock the sky is described to have ‘three suns’ which is surreal imagery which could indicate the fact that they may be in heaven. Since Causley was a religious person, the ‘three suns’ could be a dream-like symbol representing the Holy Trinity in Christianity. This may imply that the speaker thinks that his parents are slightly angelic or it could emphasise the love and respect he has for his parents. The euphemistic ‘crossing’ which he ‘had not thought it would be like this’ could indicate that Causley is filled with joy and peace that his parents are waiting for him – death should not be feared. Also, Causley uses deliberate ambiguity as it says ‘it’ which could imply the desire and longing nature of the speaker to be reconnected with his parents. Some may argue that ‘it’ could convey the notions of life and death; therefore, some may say that the poem is an extended metaphor of death. Nonetheless, there is a sense of reconciliation with the separation in Eden Rock and the peace experienced after that reconciliation. In this way both poets use contrasting imagery to present different viewpoints; whilst Causley presents peace, Day-Lewis portrays the pain and suffering experienced.

Secondly, both poems portray the idea of saudade by employing vivid imagery. In Eden Rock, Causley uses a series of precise details to describe the parents and the scene. The father wore a ‘suit of Genuine Irish Tweed’ which indicates how they took incredible care over their presentation. Capitalising ‘Genuine Irish Tweed’ emphasises the bond between him and the father and could also show to the reader that the speaker is missing that connection. Also the mother had ‘spread the stiff white cloth’ which conveys to the reader the specific nature of the memory. The use of the verb ‘spread’ portrays that it was a memory rather than just a picture. Furthermore, the use of the colour ‘white’ shows the innocence and purity of the mother in his memory which provides her with perfect and idyllic qualities.  However, the colour ‘white’ could also present the speaker’s sadness as he misses the family. Additionally, her hair is described as ‘the colour of wheat’ which could emphasise her angelic nature. The use of the ‘wheat’ colour can provide the motherly idea of nourishment and nutrition as ‘wheat’ is a staple foods in multiple diets across the world. In addition, the use of the mundane object ‘thermos’ could demonstrate that the speaker has attached special qualities to the everyday artefacts of life which amplifies the beauty of simplicity. The precision of the memory could demonstrate the close bond between the parent and the child and how he misses being with them. Nonetheless, some people may argue that the concrete nature of the memory could show the possible frightened nature of the speaker as he doesn’t want to forget his parents. This all shows Causley’s melancholic feeling of missing his parents due to the distance between them. Similarly, in Walking Away towards the end of the poem the father’s opinion changes as Day-Lewis describes the child ‘like a winged seed loosened from its parent stem,’ which could show more acceptance from the father. This may be due the fact that Cecil Day-Lewis was also put into boarding school from a young age; therefore, he understand the need for the forced separation and can sympathise with the son and the emotions that he is experiencing. The verb ‘loosened’ juxtaposes the verb ‘wrenched’ from the first stanza which reiterates the more understanding nature of the father. Additionally, the use of natural element of a ‘seed’ could show the inevitability of this. Nonetheless, the father says he can ‘never quite grasp to convey’ which demonstrates to the reader that it is still difficult to let go even though it is natural. The father refers to this as a ‘small, the scorching ordeals which fire’s one’s irresolute clay.’ There is a strong juxtaposition of ‘small’ and ‘scorching’ conveying that even though it may seem little and insignificant it is a very painful experience. Also, the noun ‘ordeals’ shows the despair felt by the father and the challenge of the separation. However, ‘ordeals’ may also show the inevitability and the inescapability of the separation. ‘Fire’s one’s irresolute clay’ suggests that the separation makes the child stronger. The use of the adjective ‘irresolute’ could indicate to the reader that it will help the child to become more independent and become more himself. The adjective ‘half-fledged’ juxtaposes the adjective ‘irresolute’ which implies the maturity of the child. One may also say that ‘irresolute’ that the child is no longer malleable and that the father can no longer shape him which indicates Day-Lewis’ of sadness during the distance. Causley and Day-Lewis convey the sadness due to the distance and separation.

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