Sunday, February 25th, 2018...10:11 pmMarissa

“My Father and the Figtree” -Naomi Shihab Nye

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“My Father and the Figtree” Naomi Shihab Nye (pgs.6-7)

Notice 10:

  1. Four Stanzas
  2. 41 lines, 12, 9, 9, 11
  3. Use of quotations from her father such as, “See those? I wish they were figs.” and “That’s not what I’m talking about!” and “I’m talking about a fight straight from the earth — /gift of Allah! — on a branch so heavy/ it touches the ground./ sweetest fig/ in the world and putting it in my mouth.” and “It’s a figtree song!”
  4. 28 Sentences, mostly simple sentences, with a few medium sentences.
  5. Use of exclamation marks show that her father was very passionate about these fig-trees. Such as when he says “It’s a figtree song!”
  6. Her father was always looking for the perfect fig-tree and he refused to try to grow his own.
  7. The first stanza has repetition of “or,” which makes the story about Joha very uncertain because it seems like there could be three different stories and she is not sure which one is true.
  8. The ending ends with her father finally finding the perfect tree in that he has waited to find for a long time in Dallas, Texas. The thing that he has been waiting for. Nye writes, “plucking his fruits like ripe tokens,/ emblems, assurance/ of a world that was always his own.”
  9. They had a garden with many other vegetables, but her father still would not grow a fig-tree. Nye names, “lima beans, zucchini, parley, beets.”
  10. Nye remembers her father talking about his perfect, large, fat figs throughout her whole life. The second stanza is from when she was six, and the thirst stanza is from many years after that. The fourth stanza has no date or the use of diction of time passed, but it is evident she does not live with him anymore because she wrote that “he moved” instead of we moved.


Title – The title of this poem, “My Father and the Figtree,” introduces the main purpose of the poem. Nye continues to talk about her father’s obsession that she remembers from the early years of her life throughout the majority of her life about how much her father wanted the perfect fig tree. I think that because the title is not “My Father” or “the Figtree,” but instead “My Father and the Figtree,” it represents that she thinks of them as one. Her father would not be who he is without his love for the perfect fig-tree.

Occasion – I think that the occasion for this poem is to point out how much love that her father put into getting exactly what he wanted. He did not try to force what he wanted by trying to plant his own fig-tree and maybe failing, but instead waited until the day that he finally found what he had been waiting for. I think that Nye wrote this as an ode to her father and his consistent journey for complete happiness, the fig-tree.

Break – I think the break in this poem is between stanzas three and four. Nye stops using small anecd0tes about the memories that she has when her father would not stop talking about his perfect fig-tree, but refused to grow it, and she moves on to talk about the moment that her father called her because he had found the perfect fig tree when he moved to Dallas, Texas.


  • I enjoyed reading the poem you selected especially after our discussion in class today about food and family. I think the point you made about the title, “My Father and the Figtree,” being seen as one entity was interesting. As we discussed in class, food is almost like a memory. One might remember the taste of a particular food and associate it with an experience, that is who was with them during the meal. Also food is delicate, and time-consuming to make. One has to care, and be dedicated in order to execute a good or tasty outcome. The love and care the father had for the perfect figtree reflects the loving and caring nature of his personality. One might question why the father did not grow a figtree, and waited. Possibly beauty or delicious tastes comes to those who wait. The father must have had some conscious telling him to wait, and not grow a figtree. His knowledge to wait implies that he had done this before, it is a learned helplessness–he has had years of experience.

  •   Professor Seiler
    March 5th, 2018 at 7:31 pm

    Marissa–nice work on this poem! I wonder if you want to ask Nye about her father, how she thinks of him in her poems, etc. during our visit with her tomorrow.

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