The poems entitled “To a Daughter Leaving Home” written by Linda Pastan and “Learning the Bicycle” by Wyatt Prunty focused on the main theme which was guiding a child to learn how to ride the bicycle and eventually accepting that the parent or the teacher needs to let go. The current discourse hereby aims to present a comparative analysis of these two poems through a closer evaluation of literary elements, such as: points of view, themes, language use and any figurative or rhetorical elements.
There were similarities in the two poems with regards to the points of view of the narrator. Both the authors, who are the narrators, are using the first person point of view. Likewise, there are also similarities in the gender of the child for both Pastan and Prunty’s poems; both were identified as female – from the title in Pastan’s poem and from the use of the pronouns in Prunty’s poem: “Her as, head lowered, she walks her bike alone” (Prunty line 8).
In contrast, there were disparities in terms of identifying the role of the narrator as explicitly and clearly as possible. The poem by Pastan was vivid in explicitly identifying the narrator as the parent of the child who was taught how to ride the bike when the child was only eight years old. In contrast, Prunty’s poem, while obvious that the child being taught was a girl, the narrator failed to disclose that he was the father of the child. Likewise, there were also differences in terms of perspectives. In Pastan’s poem, as the mother of the child, she seemed to be talking to the child through the use of the pronoun ‘you’: “When I taught you at eight to ride
a bicycle” . In contrast, Prunty was referring to the child as seen from a third person point of view through the use of pronouns ‘her’ and ‘she’.
In analyzing the literary elements of these poetries, it could be deduced that Pastan’s poem was simpler and more straightforward. She applied the simile by comparing her daughter’s hair to a handkerchief through asserting that “the hair flapping behind you like a handkerchief waving goodbye” . In contrast, Prunty used personification when he contended that shadows’ lengths tease: “Now shadow up instead of down. Their predictable lengths can only tease” (lines 6 & 7). In addition, Prunty’s poem follows a clear rhythmic pattern, in contrast to Pastan’s poem that does not adhere to any structure or pattern. Finally, Prunty’s poem uses more figurative language in terms of the need to make inferences in the symbols that were disclosed: “Her as, head lowered, she walks her bike alone; Somewhere between her wanting to ride; And her certainty she will always fall” (lines 8 to 10). Here, Prunty could indicate that the lowered head to mean timidity; shyness, apprehensiveness to fail.
Overall, both authors made similar assertions in terms of finally signifying that, as soon as their child learns to ride the bike, this could in fact symbolize letting go; or leaving home, as indicated in Pastan’s title. Therefore, as the mother, and the teacher, the only important thing that could be inferred from these poems was that they both are willing to guide these children; yet, allow them to take some risks, admonish some failure, before finally accepting the fact that they would eventually leave to assert independence and freedom.
Pastan, Linda. "To a Daughter Leaving Home." n.d.
Prunty, Wyatt. "Learning the Bicycle." Poem. n.d. Print.