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"My Son, My Executioner": Poem Analysis

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by

Toby Youngman

on 4 January 2016

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Transcript of "My Son, My Executioner": Poem Analysis

62
ECG
bpm
Thank You!
"My Son, My Executioner"
My son, my executioner,
I take you in my arms,
Quiet and small and just astir
And whom my body warms.

Sweet death, small son, our instrument
Of immortality,
Your cries and hunger document
Our bodily decay.

We twenty-five and twenty-two
Who seemed to live forever
Observe enduring life in you
And start to die together.
What is Happening?
The speaker is holding his infant son. Nothing else is actually happening in this poem, which focuses moreso on the narrator's internal thoughts.
Structure
This poem is made up of three quatrains, with each stanza becoming more specific about th narrator's fears as the poem goes on
The poem is rather short, which might not seem that important at first glance, however the poem is structured this way as a way of saying that life is short, even if we don't realize it at first.
This is reflective of the speaker's own fears and worries.
Tone/Diction
The tone and diction of this poem are rather contradictory, juxtaposing positive images with negative images.
- "My son, my executioner,
I take you in my arms,
Quiet and small and just astir
And whom my body warms."
This best exemplified in the above passage where even though a father holding his infant son would usually have an instantly positive connotation, but using the word "executioner" forms a direct contrast.
The tone and diction contribute to the meaning of the poem by contrasting both the narrator's love and fears embodied in his son
Conclusion
Poetic Devices
By Toby Youngman
"My Son, My Executioner": Poem Analysis
End Rhyme
End rhyme is displayed in the last stanza of this poem
-"We twenty-five and twenty-two
Who seemed to live forever
Observe enduring life in you
And start to die together."
This once again ties the poem back to the narrator's conflicting thoughts
He and who he implies to wife are still fairly young, with the younger of the two being not long out of their teens
They have spent their lives not worrying about the future and essentially thinking that they will live forever, but now they know that is not the case and are very aware that they are mortal and will die someday
What is Really Happening?
The speaker of this poem is conflicted. He cares deeply for his son, yet at the same time he realizes that every day he is getting weaker while his son only gets stronger. He is forced to reckon with his own mortality and the knowledge that one day his son will ascend him.
The overlying theme of this poem is that we are mortal and that aging is something that we have to accept.
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