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 of the child-parent relationship. While Olds describes the child-parent relationship that everyone wishes they have, Levis instead examines the relationship that is, unfortunately, reality for far too many individuals.
Throughout the “First Thanksgiving,” Olds uses images of motherhood and memories of when her child was an infant. This can best be seen in the passage:
…She came into my life the second great arrival, after him, fresh from the other world—which lay, from within him, within me. Those nights, I fed her to sleep, (Olds)
The memories and images that Olds utilizes in the poem create a fairy tale picture of a doting mother, who loves and supports her daughter. However, in “Winter Stars,” Levis is telling a very different…