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  • Dr.Pragya Suman

"The Death of a Parent," By Linda Pastan.

Updated: May 21, 2021

Move to the front

of the line

a voice says, and suddenly

there is nobody

left standing between you

and the world, to take

the first blows

on their shoulders.

This is the place in books

where part one ends, and

part two begins,

and there is no part three.

The slate is wiped

not clean but like a canvas

painted over in white

so that a whole new landscape

must be started, bits of the old

still showing underneath—

those colors sadness lends

to a certain hour of evening.

Now the line of light

at the horizon

is the hinge between earth

and heaven, only visible

a few moments

as the sun drops

its rusted padlock

into place.


Analysis of " The death of a Parent" is below done by Dr Pragya Suman

Limpid lines layered in core with a deep light composed by Linda Pastan. The death of a Parent is free verse in single stanza with multiple lines.

Free verses are also called "vers libre" a French word.

Free verses are like free freshet with normal pause ,free line with breaks and filled with free rhythm which remains invisible to the eyes but only beats the eardrum.

Literary device line break is frequently used in free verse to increase the pace of the poem.

Enjambment is a type of line break which occurs at mid clause.

A child is in the canopy of parents! The world is like a secure heaven. Between a child and world is steadfast safeguard of parenthood.

Real struggle starts when the parents depart. A stark nude reality of earthly life. The guard between child and world is effaced now and one has to cope up with the hurdles of life face to face. Poetess tells "move to the front line" a declaration of death of a parent. She tells it like the beginning of part two. A new canvas is ahead of the person but he also has pure white experiences of his past life spent along with parents. That memory sometimes brings sadness. One never forgets departed parents and they always come like a sad evening in memory. Past bliss is sometimes like a bursting blister in the present and that is the hardest reality. Bliss and sorrow changes their taste along with time and tense because they are chimera not truth. Truth never changes.

" Line of the light at the horizon is hinged between earth and heaven ."

Here is the starting of part three which only exists for a stoic not for a mundane person. Arrival and departure in this life is lonesome. A comfortable vision with stark reality of singleness makes one stoic. He sees permanently the light between the earth and heaven, that is the startup of the part three. Stoic's third part is not vacant but is teeming with profusity in fine balance with the universe.

Everything is mine and I am in everything !

Sometimes an earthly person also sees but it occurs for a brief period as chimera soon drags him behind.

" Sun drops its rusted padlock into place"

What a mesmerizing metaphor is "rusted padlock ".

That means "lockdown of illusion" in which common human beings live.

For a stoic there is no rusted padlock, he remains unchangeable and sedate in all the three parts !

Linda Pastan is an American poet of Jewish background. She has won awards and accolades throughout her career and was poet laureate of Merryland, America.

Nowadays she lives in Maryland though she spent her early years in New York.

She herself says " I have a natural impulse to condense, I'd like to write long narrative poems. Anytime I start anything longer I end up with a small lyric poem that just happens ".

She is alive at age of 82 and spending her rest ripened part along with her family in Merry land.

Big and deep talks in condensed, concise verse !

That is Linda Pastan !

Dr Pragya Suman

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