The Father

( 2 )

Overview

"The Father" is a sequence of poems, a daughter's vision of a father's illness and death. It chronicles these events in a connected narrative, from the onset of the illness to reflections in the years after the death. The poems are impelled by a passion to know and a freedom to follow wherever the truth may lead, and it goes into areas of feeling and experience rarely entered in poetry....The ebullient language, the startling images, the sense of connectedness seize us immediately. Sharon Olds transforms a harsh reality with truthfulness, with
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The Father

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Overview

"The Father" is a sequence of poems, a daughter's vision of a father's illness and death. It chronicles these events in a connected narrative, from the onset of the illness to reflections in the years after the death. The poems are impelled by a passion to know and a freedom to follow wherever the truth may lead, and it goes into areas of feeling and experience rarely entered in poetry....The ebullient language, the startling images, the sense of connectedness seize us immediately. Sharon Olds transforms a harsh reality with truthfulness, with beauty, with humor—and without bitterness. The deep pain in "The Father" arises from a death, and from understanding a life. But there is joy as well. In the end, we discover we have been reading not a grim accounting but an inspiriting tragedy, transcending the personal.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
These startling poems work and rework the poet's experience of her father dying from cancer. Many take place at his deathbed, detailing the physical horror of the disease as if to exorcise it: ``When they empty out his catheter bag,/ pouring the pale, amber fluid/ into the hospital measuring cup, it is/neither good nor bad, it is only/ the body.'' But at its heart, this book is about the poet's coming to terms with a father she has hated: an alcoholic, divorced from her mother, and at times cruel and remote. Olds handles this very difficult terrain directly, without sentimentality: ``I would have traded/ places with anyone raised on love,/but how would anyone raised on love/bear this death?'' At its best, her work calls to mind James Wright's stunning leaps from the physical into prayer: ``Yes the tears came/ out like juice and sugar from the fruit--/ the skin thins and breaks and rips, there are/ laws on this earth and we live by them.'' Psalm-like, these poems make beauty from pain without softening it. For most collections.-- Ellen Kaufman, Dewey Ballantine Law Lib., New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679740025
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/28/1992
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 690,543
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Table of Contents

The Waiting 3
Nullipara 5
The Pulling 6
The Glass 7
Death and Morality 9
The Picture I Want 10
The Lumens 11
His Terror 12
His Stillness 13
The Want 14
The Lifting 15
The Look 17
The Struggle 18
The Present Moment 20
Last Acts 21
The Transformed One 22
Last Words 23
Close to Death 24
Wonder 25
The Race 26
The Request 28
Psalm 29
My Father's Eyes 31
The Last Day 32
The Exact Moment of His Death 35
His Smell 37
The Dead Body 39
Death 41
The Feelings 42
After Death 44
What Shocked Me When My Father Died 46
Death and Murder 47
The Mortal One 48
The Urn 49
His Ashes 50
Beyond Harm 52
The Underlife 53
One Year 54
The Swimmer 56
The Exam 57
Natural History 59
The Cigars 60
Parent Visiting Day 62
Letter to My Father from 40,000 Feet 63
The Pull 65
The Ferryer 67
The Motel 69
I Wanted to Be There When My Father Died 71
When the Dead Ask My Father about Me 73
To My Father 75
Waste Sonata 76
My Father Speaks to Me from the Dead 78
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 15, 2012

    Simply Marvelous Poetry

    I bought this as a gift to a real poetry lover. She is nothing but pleased with it. And what I read before wrapping it sure did move me as well. Fantastic!! This one's a winner!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2011

    A staple in my poetry library

    I have read this book many times and continually marvel at the narrative that strings the poems together. I admire the speaker's curiosity about the most terrible things and the way these terrible things give rise to each poem.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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