An Analysis of 35/10 by Sharon Olds

The reader may interpret, 35/10 by Sharon Olds, as a poem about a mother longingly admiring the youthfulness of her daughter’s body. The mother does not long to possess such a body once more, rather to share the experience of creating life alongside her daughter. She realizes that as her daughter comes of age to procreate, her own ability to do so will deteriorate. 

Olds portrays the fear of the disposability of human beings. As a newer, younger and fresher generation of people “[open] like a… flower” the potential and possibilities that the old once possessed “[falls] through [their] body”. The daughter will one day assume the role of “mother” to her own child. Consequently, nature would no longer require the mother to play the role of “mother”. 

The primes  poem is based on the poet’s fantasy as Sharon Olds’ only child was her son. The ideas discussed were based on the reality that as her child comes of age, her own time is running out. The title of the poem- being 35/10- implies that the poet is a 35 year old mother tending for her 10 year old daughter. If the poet were presenting her 35 year old self in the poem, the details of her aging described- such as being “silver haired”, “pit skinned” and facing her “last chances to bear a child”- are heavily exaggerated. 

All rights reserved © 2019 Josephine Joyil

An Analysis of “Ethics” by Linda Pastan

In her poem “Ethics,” Linda Pastan used tactile and visual imagery. The poem begins by setting the scene in a classroom in which restless children are sitting on hard chairs as their ethics teacher asks them questions. Both restlessness and hard chairs are elements of childhood that can help one place themselves in the position of the poet as a child. The hard chairs is a specific example of tactile imagery that the poet uses. 

The poet used visual imagery in saying that the old woman borrowed her grandmother’s face. This gives the abstract idea of an old woman a concrete identity. The reader is invited to place their own grandmother in the place of the old woman. This form of imagery allows a reader to view the situation from the perspective of the child once again. 

The poet then places herself in the place of the old woman in the burning building, inviting the reader to do the same, to provide the reader with an alternate perspective. This is done to contradict the idea presented in the beginning of the poem- where the life of a Rembrandt is more valuable as it might ultimately outlast the old lady- by comparing the value of the reader’s life with that of the Rembrandt. 

All rights reserved © 2019 Josephine Joyil