My Son My Executioner: Poetry Explication

Topics: Metaphor, Denotation, Connotation Pages: 2 (647 words) Published: December 4, 2014
Kelsey Renoe

Kathy kvinge

ENG 1102 20703

September 17, 2014

"My Son, My Executioner" by Donald Hall

"My Son, My Executioner"

My son, my executioner
I take you in my arms
Quiet and small and just astir
and whom my body warms

Sweet death, small son,
our instrument of immortality,
your cries and hunger document
our bodily decay.

We twenty two and twenty five,
who seemed to live forever,
observe enduring life in you
and start to die together.

In "My Son, My Executioner," Donald Hall uses connotative meaning, imagery and figures of speech to create the overall contrasting metaphors of this poem to express the sentiments and feelings every new parents experience. The two poetic devices Hall makes the most use of would have to be imagery and metaphoric figurative language. By using tactile, organic, visual and auditory imagery; the speaker implants a vivid image of a father and sons first moments and feelings as his baby is "just astir". In the first verse he sets up the visual/auditory scene of a new baby "quiet small and just astir". The combination of the tactile sensation when the author says "I take you in my arms" with the organic feel of life and love when he says "and whom my body warm"; not only creates strong sensory imagery but also hold a lot of metaphoric meaning.

Hall uses a variety of figures of speech to tell a beautiful emotional story in only three versus. Metaphoric and personification were the two most prevalent figures of speech. The presents an executioner as a metaphor for his son in the first line of verse one. He also uses two metaphoric contrast when he compares his son to "sweet death" yet also "our instrument of immortality" in the beginning of line verse two. Sweet death is a metaphoric representation of how the child signifies the ending or "death" of their old life as they knew it. Hall amplifies this metaphor when he says, "your cries and hunger document/ our bodily...
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