Formalist Criticism on the poem.
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Analysis of “My Son, My Executioner” by Donald Hall
Donald Hall brings to the table the issue of fatherhood, but not fatherhood as to be a father, having a child and raise it. In the poem, parenthood is seen as a link to immortality. Its central theme is the father-son relationship. He uses the metaphor of the son as an executioner to convey the meaning of the growth of the child and the aging of the father. To see the child as an executioner is not a sweet metaphor, but it’s crude, and raw meaning is a staple of Hall’s poetry. In Hall’s style, we see a plainspoken rural poet who relies on simple and concrete diction. Limiting the superfluous, and imbuing them in a tone of authority with a simplicity that engages the reader in the first lines (Poets.org). In “My son, my executioner” the discourse centers on two things with similar qualities. On one hand, we have the father, who represents life. A man who gave part of himself to bring his child to life, and receives it in his arms to protect and warm. “Quiet and small and just astir/and whom my body warms” (Hall). On the other hand, we have the child, a product of the father, and his “executioner”. The use of the son as a figure of death is an interesting metaphor, as Hall documents the growth of the child. He also records the death of the father, who despite being young when he bears his son, dies every day his it grows. In the same way, as we mentioned …
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