Two Hands Essay

397 Words2 Pages
Two Hands The poem "Two Hands" by Jon Stallworthy depicts the inadequacy and loneliness felt by a son in a distant father son relationship. Through the poets diction, use of stylistic devices such as alliteration, enjambment and his vivid use of sensory imagery, the poet paints a sad picture of loneliness and inadequacy. By following the speaker''s soliloquy of emotional turmoil, the reader is able to understand the speaker''s feelings of isolation and his desperate, yearning desire to establish a relationship with his father. The poem initially describes a series of objects as taking progressively anthropomorphic actions, from nodding, to dancing and finally sobbing. Then its focus shifts to the surgeon whose hand has caused these actions. Next, its focus broadens to the narrator, the surgeon's son whose poetry vocation and personality compare poorly with the great public services of his father, whom the son longs to be of service to. Finally, some of the original objects recapture the focus of the poem and of the father, again leaving the son in his customary and demoralizing position of being left at home suffering from comparison with his absent father. A personified object seems like an equal partner with the hand holding it, and the hand seems separate from its owner, in the first two lines of the poem: '"My father in his study sits up late, a pencil nodding stiffly in the hand". The word "nodding" suggests a personification of the pen. The word "stiffly" immediately suggests that the father, at least in comparison with or as perceived by the son, is rigid rather than fluid, and perhaps formal rather than emotive. The phrase "the hand" (in place of the alternative phrase "his hand") might be intended to suggest a separation between the hand and the father, and perhaps that even bodily connections cannot prevent such separations). A second,
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