Sunday, January 23, 2011

(253) Offspring by Naomi Long Madgett


In Offspring, metaphor and imagery are used to portray the departure of a child into the outside world without the help of the mother.  The mother, compared to a tree, wants to tell her daughter to “…stretch newgrown branches closer to the sun than I can reach” (4-6), and to, “Extend my self to that far atmosphere that only my dreams allow” (8-9).  By this, the mother means what every parent wants for her child; for that child to exceed her parent and to live a fulfilling life.  The mother, as a tree, wants for her daughter’s branches to stretch closer to the heavens than her own, and for her to live a life similar to that of her own, only exceeding the mother’s achievements.  However, “…the twig broke, and yesterday I saw her walking down an unfamiliar street” (10-12), meaning that the daughter is not walking in her mother’s footsteps, but is, rather, leading a life of her own, happily.  

The imagery describes the daughter’s life in the end by saying that the daughter was walking down the street, “feet confident face slanted upward toward a threatening sky, and she was smiling and she was her very free, her very individual, unpliable own” (13-21).  Specifically the description of the sky as being threatening unveils an ominous future for the daughter.  My breaking that branch, she’s lost sight of her mother’s good direction and is spiraling toward the threatening sky; yet, she is happy.  She faces the sky with a smile, as she is free, and she is ready to face the threatening sky that is the real world.

I really love the poem as it shows the maturing of the daughter, branching out (pun intended) to the real world.  She sees that the sky is threatening, as the world is a threatening place, yet she faces such threats with a smile, as she is mature and free enough to face the challenges of life on her own.  Such is the dream of any mother for her daughter.

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