Comparison Of 'First Thanksgiving, By Sharon Olds And Winter Stars' By Larry Levis

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The child-parent relationship is, perhaps, the most foundational and important relationship that any human will ever have, and as such many literary works over the centuries have examined this relationship. The two poems, “First Thanksgiving,” by Sharon Olds and “Winter Stars,” by Larry Levis are examples of two different ways that such a literary work can be done. These two poems have numerous parallels, although their similarities only serve to highlight their differences, which can be seen in the imagery the poets use, their use of memories which are superficially disconnected from the theme of the poem, and the reunions that are the topic of both poems; these differences ultimately create two poems which paint diametrically opposed pictures …show more content…
He never mentioned it.

I never understood how anyone could risk his life,
Then listen to Vivaldi. (Levis)
Levis’ choice to start the poem off with an old memory, which has little, if any, relevance to the story of his father’s dementia and their reconciliation, might seem like an odd choice. However, it is a very striking and simple way to accomplish two goals that Levis might have had. First, the memory gives the reader a strong indication of the type of person his father was, and second it highlights the disconnect that existed between the father and son, therefore making the need for a reconciliation later in life all the more apparent. However, Olds has a simpler goal behind her choice to end her poem with a detached memory, however the memory is even more disconnected from the topic of the story, and more symbolic than the memory Levis uses. After Olds describes the mother waiting and envisioning her daughter’s return from college, the poem concludes with the lines:
…As a child, I caught bees, by the wings, and held them, some seconds, looked into their wild faces, listened to them sing, then tossed them
…show more content…
Her daughter has been away at college, and at this, the first thanksgiving after her daughter left, all she can do is envision how wonderful the reunion will be. Everyone desires such a relationship with their parents, and every parent hopes their children have similar thoughts about reuniting with them. A loving relationship between parent and child is, perhaps, the keystone of a healthy life. However, the son in Levis’ poem “Winter Stars,” did not have that type of relationship with his father. As Levis writes, “When I left home at seventeen, I left for good,” he did not return home at Thanksgiving, or at any other time, and while perhaps his father sat at home hoping and praying for his son’s return, those prayers went unanswered

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