Analysis of the poem, “For My Daughter”
The poem "For My Daughter" expresses a man's fear for her daughter. In this case, the author mentioned in his last line that “I have no daughter" and that "I desire to have none." What could drive a man to not want to have a daughter when a lot of men do desire to have one? The poem written by Weldon Kee’s during a time of extreme hardships in the 1940’s uses figures of speech, voice and imagery to reflect his reasons for not want to have a daughter.
“Looking into my daughter's eyes I readBeneath the innocence of morning fleshConcealed, hintings of death she does not heed.”
The first line, “Looking into my daughter’s eyes,” the author use voice to imply that he is actually talking to his daughter, telling her of her worries about the uncertain future she may have, as the latter part of the poem implies. Maybe because of the current world he is living where he may have witness how women are treated in society, thus this poem. Thus, the last part of the poem says that he has no daughter and has no plans of having one as the last line says, “I desire none”.
Besides the use of voice, the author used vivid imagery to support the speaker’s fears for her daughter. The first thing that the author fears is her daughter’s death. This is not just an ordinary kind of death but a miserable kind of death. As the following lines reflect, the author fears that her daughter might die from drowning or a violent death is reflected in the words “mesh/of seawood”.
“Coldest of winds have blown this hair, and meshOf seaweed snarled these miniatures of hands;”
Another way that his daughter might die is death through poison envisioned through the following lines.
“The night’s slow poison, tolerant and bland,Has moved her blood. Parched years that I have seen”
And the third kind of death that her daughter might face is death from war and further implying that it is “foul” and “lingering” meaning slow but painful death.
“That may be hers appear: foul, lingering Death in certain war, the slim legs green.”
Another fate that his daughter might face is if his daughter will grow hating others. As reflected in the following lines, this hatred for others may be brought about by human suffering that the daughter might see or experience through wars or any other ways.
“Or, fed on hate, she relishes the sting Of others’ agony; perhaps the cruel”
The third kind of fate that the author sees and fears that his daughter might experience is if she becomes the "bride of a syphillitic fool".
“Of others’ agony; perhaps the cruel Bride of a syphilitic or a fool.”
This means that the father fears that his daughter might marry a man who is a cheater or who commits adultery and might even infect her daughter with sexually transmitted diseases.
Through these, the author feels that the world is currently not suitable for raising a child.
One reason for some of his fears might be because of his own doings during his youth. For example when he feared that her daughter might marry a syphillistic fool, it might be that he too might have cheated on women also. Or it may be that his father or some of his friends might have done that also.
All these things are mere speculations, as written by the author.
"These speculations sour in the sun"
However, these mere speculations have made him "sour" enough to discourage him of wanting to have a daughter.
As mentioned before, the last line says:
“I do not have a daughter; I desire to have none.”
This is his desire because of the fears and doubts brought about his speculations. It can be perceived that the author is too negative about life however this may be brought about by certain bad experiences in his life. Whatever that may be, he may be saving one life from the pains and troubles of the world.
Since these are just speculations, there is still a possibility that the author will outgrow these fears and eventually change his mind about having a daughter.
In addition to voice and imagery, the author is also successful in using figures of speech putting deeper meaning to the lines poem. He hides the recognition of the energy from the youth in the lines “innocence of morning flesh”. He used the line “Parched years that I have seen” to refer to time that has passed or the years that he had experienced.
With regards to the poems rhythm Iambic tetrameter as illustrated in the lines below: “Of o-|thers’ a| go ny;| per haps| the cru el
(duh-DUH-duh-DUH-duh-duh-DUH-duh-duh-duh)Bride of |a sy-|phi li-| tic or |a fool.”
Kees, Weldon. “For my daughter.” Accessed from http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/177037