Tuesday 14 August 2012

No Father

No Father

I've been called father many times
  in family courts - by judges twice my age
but never daddy.

Nor I, my sons nor daughters know what's lost
  except a few; those I fear - they know to condemn me,
now they have a daddy.

But there is one; whose judgement
  sinks me down to hell, each time I dare recall:
he had a daddy-

and so my wretched heart,
  hardened well against my mothers tears and soft entreaties
my heart which never loved,

can never love nor soften now
  lest it should know and die, under that awful weight:
his mother's bitter tears.

The Chief of Judges knows I am no father
  having never made a home, nor yet a family
and one - not mine - I have destroyed.

© 2010 Sam Liddicott

I had wanted to write a modern lads version of Ella Wheeler Wilcox's The Coquette http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Coquette_(Wilcox) which considers the female perspective.

The poem is the looking back of a man on his life.

v1 references his early careless attitude - leaving a bite of care at the end

v2 tries to pretend that the victims of a stunted childhood can't know; so un-accused harm is no harm

v3 he has to stop pretending and be honest, which he is in v6 after his looking back in v4 and v5

In v4 "which never loved" acknowledges that all his relationships were selfish

 v5 in later life, finding a shortage of people ready to read more into his actions than he ever meant, and a shortage of people generally he began to prey on married women - and got stripped of his final illusion, that he brought any happiness to anyone at all. He can no longer imagine or pretend that fond memories of him are to be found anywhere - he knows now that in what he saw as a carefree life, he was the worm which consumes

v6 he knows his state. He sees that he has wasted all opportunity to be of worth or loved by others.

He cannot find his value without also knowing what he has destroyed and the pain is too much, so he cannot move on. His only hope is mercy which he never had but that can't be effective until he accepts his state, which he cannot.

1 comment:

  1. Very poignant and thoughtful.
    I have not read the original.