Father to Son Class 11 English Poem Explanation, Summary

By Vaishnavi Tyagi

Father to Son CBSE Class 11 NCERT English Hornbill book Poem 5 Explanation, Summary, Difficult words

Father to Son CBSE Class 11 English (Hornbill book) Poem 5 – Detailed explanation of the Poem along with meanings of difficult words. Also, the explanation is followed by a Summary of the poem and literary devices used. All the exercises and Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson have been covered.

Class 11 English (Hornbill Book) Poem 5 – Father to Son

by Elizabeth Jennings

father to son

 

Father to Son Introduction of the Poem

The poem ‘Father to Son’ is written by Elizabeth Jennings. The poem is about the anguish of a father who doesn’t have a good relationship with his son. His son is now grown up and is busy in his life. The father is bitter about the generation gap between them and the feeling of separation. He shares his feelings by saying he doesn’t know much about him and there is no sign of understanding. He wants their relationship to be just like when his son was a child. He is trying his best to resolve the issue but he is in vain. Therefore, they are drifting apart.

 

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Father to Son Poem Summary

The poem is about the agony of a father where he rants about the unsettling relationship with his son who is now a grown-up. He shares that although they had lived together in the same house for years, he doesn’t understand him. He doesn’t know anything about him and even if he tried to build up a relationship with him like the one when he was a small child, he was in vain.

He further says that even if his son looks like him, yet he doesn’t know what he loves. He acknowledges the communication gap and lack of understanding between them and they speak like strangers. His son is in a different place which he cannot access due to the increasing gap. There is silence between them. He is ready to forgive his prodigal son. He wants to accept him back to the house, the one which he always knew. He doesn’t want his son to move around the world. He is longing to love him.

The son finally speaks up and shares what he feels. He is at a stage where he cannot understand himself. He feels grief about the growing distance between them and he is angry due to the grief and sadness. They put out an empty hand towards each other but none of them holds it. They want to forgive each other yet couldn’t find a solution to the problem.eframe

 

See: The Laburnum Top Class 11 English Poem Explanation, Summary

 

Father to Son Poem and Explanation

I do not understand this child
Though we have lived together now
In the same house for years. I know
Nothing of him, so try to build
Up a relationship from how
He was when small. Yet have I killed

 

In the above stanza, the poet shares his feelings about his relationship with his son. He says that although they both had lived together in the same house for many years, yet he doesn’t understand him. He doesn’t know anything about his son, his likes and dislikes. He tried to build up a relationship with him from the time he was vain and small. His son has changed as he has grown up.

 

The seed I spent or sown it where
The land is his and none of mine?
We speak like strangers, there’s no sign
Of understanding in the air.
This child is built to my design
Yet what he loves I cannot share.

 

Sown – do something which will bring a result

 

The father uses ‘I’ in the first line to acknowledge his role in the communication gap between them. He says that despite all efforts, his son was in another place that the father cannot access. They used to talk to each other like strangers and there was no sign of understanding between them. His child used to look like him and yet he didn’t know what his son loved.

 

See: The Voice of the Rain Class 11 English Poem Explanation, Summary

 

Silence surrounds us. I would have
Him prodigal, returning to
His father’s house, the home he knew,
Rather than see him make and move
His world. I would forgive him too,
Shaping from sorrow a new love.

 

Prodigal – spending money freely

 

There is silence between them. As a child, he was a prodigal son and now his father wanted him to return to his house, the one he knew. He didn’t want his son to move around and make his own world.He was ready to forgive him and let go of the sorrows he had inside because of him, because of the distance between them. He wanted to love him again.

 

Father and son, we both must live
On the same globe and the same land,
He speaks: I cannot understand
Myself, why anger grows from grief.
We each put out an empty hand,
Longing for something to forgive.

 

Grief – sorrow, sadness

 

See: CBSE Class 11 English Lesson The Portrait of a Lady

 

The son speaks for the first time and explains what he feels. He also feels sad about the distance between them. He shares that he is at a point where he doesn’t understand himself. His anger arises out of his sadness. It is quite clear that on both sides lies the same frustration about the gap in their relationship. They both want to forgive each other and yet they cannot find a solution to the problem. Both of them put out an empty hand for the other to seek, always in vain.

 

Father to Son Literary Devices

Simile – a figure of speech that makes comparison and shows similarities between two things

 

We speak like strangers

 

Alliteration – The occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of closely connected words

 

The seed I spent or sown it where – ‘s’ sound
Silence surrounds us

 

Metaphor – an indirect comparsion between a quality shared by two persons or things

 

The seed I spent or sown it where
The land is his and none of mine?

 

See: Childhood Class 11 English Poem 4

 

I would have
Him prodigal, returning to
His father’s house

 

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Father to Son Poem Question and Answers

Think it out

1. Does the poem talk of an exclusively personal experience or is it fairly universal?

Ans: The poem ‘Father to Son’ talks about a fairly universal experience. When a child is growing up, the father is usually busy with his work and is not able to take out time for his child. When the father grows older and has free time, his son gets involved in his life and has no time for his old father. This cycle is universal.

 

2. How is the father’s helplessness brought out in the poem?

Ans: The father’s helplessness is brought out in the poem by these lines: ‘I do not understand this child, Though we have lived together now, In the same house for years.’ ‘He speaks: I cannot understand Myself, why anger grows from grief.’ ‘Yet what he loves I cannot share’ and ‘I know Nothing of him’.

These lines indicate how he wanted to make a relationship with his son better and now as his son was like a stranger to him, they both put out an empty hand to each other and remain in vain.

 

3. Identify the phrases and lines that indicate distance between father and son.

Ans: The phrases and lines that indicate the distance between both of them are: ‘I do not understand this child, Though we have lived together now, In the same house for years.’ ‘He speaks: I cannot understand Myself, why anger grows from grief.’ ‘Yet what he loves I cannot share’ ‘I know Nothing of him’ and ‘Silence surrounds us’.

 

4. Does the poem have a consistent rhyme scheme?

Ans: The poem has a consistent rhyme scheme with an open verse format. The short sentences are juxtaposed with longer sentences.

 

Also See: CBSE Class 11 English Lessons – summary and explanation