By: Irving Layton
The poem “Keine Lazarovitch” by Irving Layton was written about his mother, Keine, most likely as a eulogy after she died in 1959. The unusual yet astonishing thing about this poem is during the first four paragraphs the mood is dark, almost evil like, and fierce, as he speaks of growing old and death, “For her mouth was not water but a curse,” (paragraph 2). We can see that the speaker, her son, is an honest and expressive man. The emotional effects of these four paragraphs makes us question why Irving would bother to write a eulogy for his mother if he only states dreadful things about her, it also makes the reader believe perhaps his mother was an unhappy miserable woman who only cursed God’s creatures.
The final paragraph of the poem leaves the reader with a satisfying sense of peace, where he basically says that although his mother spoke her mind and was firm on her beliefs, and though the things did may have sometimes been a nuisance, she was his mother. The things she did made her the person she was. Her characteristics were the things that made her real. Though eulogies are usually spoken with a soft tone, and speak of all the great things the person did, the reality is no one is perfect, and the flaws that people have make them who they are. The author’s purpose was to show his true love for his mother. He loved her because she was, in fact, so fierce and outspoken, which is why the thought of this poem is so important.
The imagery is very powerful as we can see the picture of his deceased “mother’s head on the cold pillow, her white waterfalling hair in the cheeks’ hollows,” (paragraph 1). This immediately illustrates his mother in the casket at her funeral. Also, we can see the obvious look of the mother when he talks of her amber beads that she wore “upon her breast so radiantly.” (paragraph 4). These clear visual characteristics also show Layton’s observance and attention towards his...
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