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Subject The Gift
Posted by Sophia Ho
Posted on Wed Jan 13 19:51:14 1999
From IP h4.s117.ts30.hinet.net  

The Gift

The poem is about the speaker who remembers his father when he is shaving his wife・s thumbnail, because the gesture that he has is exactly the same as the gesture that his father had when the father was pulling out the metal splinter from the speaker・s palm when the speaker was a young boy. The gift in the poem is the love and the tender that the father left to the speaker. The event that the speaker remembers is that when he was little, he had a metal splinter stuck in his palm, but his father took it out, and the speaker felt no pain.
In the first stanza, when I read the first two lines, I seemed to see a seven-year-old boy with tears on his face not drying yet, sitting on the table and the father standing in front of the boy with the boy・s wounded hand in his hand. The father is telling a story to the boy to distract his attention. Then, the boy stops crying. He doesn・t even notice when his father takes out the iron sliver. The story told in a low voice shows the tender of the father. Also, from :the iron sliver I thought I・d die from;, how bad the speaker felt then is known. However, his father・s caring and love cease the pain.
The speaker can・t remember the story now, but what still lasts in his mind is his father・s voice and hands. However, his father did what other fathers would do, which is to scold the speaker for his carelessness. From line 1 to line three of the second stanza, the speaker・s father・s voice left him very deep impression. The father・s voice was like :a well of dark water,; which calms and attracts him. When one is standing next to the well and looking into it, usually one tends to lean at the fence of the well and try to look into the water and see one・s own reflection on the water. The speaker・s father・s voice is like the well of dark water, which has the ability of drawing his attention and making him really listening to the voice. Besides, his father・s voice is like a prayer・s voice, calm and sincere. Also, :a prayer; implies that his father was praying for his recovering, for he didn・t want to see his son getting hurt again. Then, the speaker remembers the father・s hands. The father used his tender hands to heal the wound on the boy・s palm, but he also used his hands to discipline the boy because of the boy・s incaution, which led to his injury. The father hit the boy at the head to teach him a lesson.
In the third stanza, from line 1 to line 4, the speaker says that if readers were there at that time, readers would see a little boy crying when the father was dealing with the wound. It was like the father was planting something in the boy・s palm. He was actually planting the boy・s tear and his flame of anger and care into the boy・s palm. However, within the boy・s tear, part of it was from him, because he was unwilling to scold his son, but he had to let the boy knew that what he did was wrong. To the speaker, what his father told him on that day has already engraved in his mind. From line 5 to line 7, we can see that he has learned his father・s tenderness and he shows it when he is doing the same thing to his wife. Line 5 and 6 bring readers from the past to the present. Readers can see the speaker bends over his wife・s right hand.
In the forth stanza, from line 1 to line 3, there is the description of how the speaker shaves his wife・s thumbnail down when she hurt her thumb. The way he does it is exactly the way his father did to him when he got hurt. He helps his wife so tenderly that his wife looks at him when he is doing it not even notice that the splinter has been taken out. The way he holds his wife・s hand is the way his father held his hand when he was seven. In line 4 and 5, the speaker falls back to the memory of the even again.
In the fifth stanza, from line 1 to line 7, the speaker talks like a child who is very proud of himself for not asking for sympathy because of a wound. In the lines, he is also proud of his father who loved him dearly. Line three and line seven are the words that children may say when they are hurt and want to get their parents・ attention. They overemphasize the degree of the hurt, though it may not be that bad. However, the speaker didn・t do as other children do. The shard in the speaker・s eye becomes ore which is precious and has been planted in his heart. :[C]hristen it Little Assassin, / Ore Going Deep for My Heart.; The speaker talks like little child here. The shard is not the thing that hurts him any more; it becomes the treasure of his father・s love and tenderness, that is rooted in his heart, because it has been christened by his father・s love and turned into a gift. He kissed his father.
In the forth and the fifth stanza, the sentence that connects the two stanzas is half in the former one and half in the latter one. This shows the speaker・s memory for his father is connected. As to the sounds, in the end of the lines, there are usually long vowel words, such as /a/, /e/, /u/, /au/, and /ai/, because they prolong the tone and create a calm and sweet feelings of the memory.


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