“My Son the Man” pg 563

I was searching for a poem to write about and stumbled upon “My Son the Man” near the back of the Norton Introduction to Poetry. The poem caught my eye because the title itself relates a strong feeling of nostalgia as well as an understanding of inevitability, similar to that described in “The Clocks” by Daniel Tobin which I previously wrote a blog on. In the poem, “My Son the Man” a mother describes her surprise as she suddenly realizes her son is no longer the baby she had just a few years ago. She looks at her son and realizes that nature has taken its toll, transforming the child whom she dressed, carried, and gave birth to, has grown up and is ready to be a man. The mother recalls experiences with him as a child, such as helping him put on his pajamas, tossed in the air, and gave birth to, with a longing for the past. She describes giving birth to him with such harsh descriptions, implying the pain and burden she went through to have “what I had always wanted, my son the baby.” But now her son, the baby, has been taken away by time and is allowing himself to grow up. She compares him to Houdini, who allowed himself to be put in a box or manacled because he knew the way out. Similarly, her son has become bigger, “the way Houdini would expand his body while people were putting him in chains,” and does not stop it. The mother is somewhat irked that her son would allow this to happen and is not ready for her baby to be taken away from her. The struggle this mother is having is common to most mothers and is accurately described as being very difficult to accept.

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