The reader can experience a greater appreciation of Wright’s poem if it is studied through the lens of his life’s story. He was born in the year 1927 in a small town called Martins Ferry, Ohio (Henricksen & Johnson 1). He was born into a working-class family. He experienced the brutal impact of the economic depression of the 1930s. The hard life he endured at Martins Ferry prompted him to join the Army (Henricksen & Johnson 1).
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He attended college and earned a Ph.D. from the University of Washington (Henricksen & Johnson 1). Based on this information, it can be argued that the poem, Two Postures beside a Fire was an expression of the desire to come home. It is also a poem that explored the bond between father and son.
The poem is about the bond between father and son. It is not about the relationship between a father and his daughter. This assertion is supported by the author’s choice of words. The words were not the typical words that daughters would normally use to describe their father. These are masculine words. The author did not talk about the father’s emotions or the father’s inner struggles. The author talked about manly things, such as the strength of the father that enabled him to break stones. He talked about the father’s ability to manipulate great machines.
The author fondly remembered the time when his father worked in a quarry. He also remembered the time when his father worked in a factory. A daughter may touch upon this topic, but she would never talk about it in the same manner. In this particular poem, the author spoke with pride about his father’s strength. Moreover, he also highlighted the fact that his father’s physical strength was no longer the same. The author expressed a profound sadness over that loss. Only the male gender can understand the deep sadness that encapsulates a man with limited physical capabilities.
The claim that this poem was about the bond between father and son was strengthened after examining the words found in the second stanza. In the second stanza, Wright said that his father was proud of him. At first glance, one could detect a hint of doubt. Nevertheless, he was desperate to believe that those words were true. In fact, he did not bother to ask the opinion of his father; he simply assumed that his father was proud of his son. This intense desire for recognition is a common way to describe the unique relationship between father and son.
In the same stanza, one can find another set of evidence that supported the said claim. The author said that his father’s approval inspired him to accomplish great things (Wright 161). This is a type of statement that usually comes from the mouth of sons. Wright also added that he had become a man. The desire to become a man is a common theme that accompanies the often tenuous relationship between father and son.
Wright’s poem captured the unique relationship between father and son. The poem expressed a son’s desire to connect with his father. At the same time, the poem described Wright’s struggle to live up to the father’s high expectations. He did everything to make his father proud. However, he was unsure if his exploits were good enough to please his father. Thus, the poem explored the oftentimes tenuous relationship between father and son.
Henricksen, Bruce and Robert Johnson. From the Other World: Poems in Memory of James Wright. MN: Lost Hills Books, 2008. Print.
Wright, James. Collected Poems. CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1971. Print.