Leaving the Nest
When children graduate from high school and move away to college, it can be devastating for parents. The children leave to gain independence from their parents. They feel they are going on with a new adventure in their lives and gaining a new experience as an adult in the world. They are in a parent’s life for so many years that they cannot imagine life without them in the house. They become sad at the thought of not hearing the laughter or tears every day. Two poems that pick up on this experience are “On a Daughter’s Leaving Home” and “At the San Francisco Airport”. These are not just poems about children leaving home but about the emotions all parents go through and the worry they take on when they do. In the poem, “On a daughter’s leaving home”, the daughter sees her life as a joy. She is excitingly, going off on her own to experience being independent. The daughter is on her bicycle “pumping, pumping.” She goes on with her life “screaming with laughter.” The daughter sees her life as something adventurous and fun. The mother is nervous to see her daughter go down a “curved path of the park”. This “curved path” represents life with all its twists and turns. It is a symbol of life as unpredictable. It does not go in one straight line. The mother is afraid of the dangers that her daughter will encounter on her adventures in the world. The daughter’s “hair flapping” is a symbol of the daughter waving goodbye. It is like a handkerchief that one waves when he/she is seeing someone off on his/her travels. This makes the parent sad. She feels left behind. In the poem, the mother is worrying and panicking about the daughter getting hurt. She keeps “waiting for a thud of crash ”. In her eyes, she sees her daughter as fragile. Her daughter is “smaller, more breakable”. In the poem, “At the San Francisco Airport”, the father is saying goodbye to his daughter. This letting go is exceedingly difficult for him. He is hurting, and it is extremely...
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