My Father's Garden David Wagoner Analysis

1023 Words 5 Pages
Analysis of “My Father’s Garden” “My Father’s Garden,” by David Wagoner is a poem about a child who reminisces about his or her father’s life. The speaker thinks back on his or her father’s work, his hobbies, and his education in this poignant tribute. With the author’s use of metaphors, similes, and alliteration, the poem emerges as a cautionary tale to show the impact of industrialization.
With an extensive use of metaphors, Wagoner emphasizes the environment the father works in each day. To begin with, the speaker describes his father’s workplace as an “open hearth” (line 1). This description of the father’s workplace evokes a feeling of heat and fire. As the poem goes on, the reader finds out that it is a steel mill the child is
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In the start of the second stanza, the metaphors change to describe, “the scrapyard, his kind of garden” (6). The father frequents the scrapyard and searches through the metal, just like a gardener would tend a garden. When the speaker says “grottoes of sewing machines and refrigerators” (8) we are able to see how the father and child view the scrapyard. The child of the steel mill worker depicts a messy place of random metal, where old items are tossed away when they no longer have a practical use. To the father, the scrapyard is a place that he can find trinkets and gifts for his children. It is a relaxing place for him to search for little treasures. The reader gets a more peaceful feeling when reading about the junkyard than they do when reading of the steel mill. In addition to metaphors, many similes are added to the poem to enhance the reader’s …show more content…
The repeating consonants in a series of words adds a certain flair to the poem that would be less effective without it. The phrase “rusty rockeries” (7) further shows the child’s negativity about the junkyard. Combining those two words shows how different the child and the father feel about the junkyard. Another instance of alliteration occurs in the third stanza when the speaker says “cannons or cars” (17) to describe the products of the steel mill. These words sound great together and yet, they hold very different meanings. A historical weapon and a modern innovation fit together beautifully in the poem because of alliteration. The most effective use of alliteration comes when the speaker is describing his father’s education. During this point in the poem, the reader is finally able to grasp why the child feels so negatively about his father’s career and his favorite hobby. The child feels as if someone or something stole a part of his father from him. The speaker states “He tried to keep his brain / From melting in those tyger-mouthed mills” (13-14). Each day the father went to work, his mind was being weakened by the harsh elements in those “tiger-mouthed mills” (14). Through the words of this phrase, the reader is able to feel the sadness of the child. The father’s mind was taken too soon by the work conditions that he endured each

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