Work to Be Done

Last Updated: 25 May 2023
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The poem ‘Dad’ explores the author, Elaine Feinstein’s life and the feelings surrounding the passing of her father. The poem was written a year and a half after her father’s death as she tried to come to terms with her feelings of grief and sadness towards losing a loved one. Elaine Feinstein reflects on the images she has of her father. The themes that evolve throughout the poem ‘Dad’ are those of grief for the father she has lost, love and great sorrow. “Every day I grieve”, demonstrates the degree of loss the author feels towards her father’s death.

Fond memories of her father caring sacks of potatoes, fresh eggs and flowers show the great love she feels towards her father. She feels sorrow for all the childhood memories that she has lost. At the start of the poem the tone is one of fondness as the author describes the characteristics of her father such as his hat and his soft heavy hand. This gives the reader an idea that it was when she was a child and that her dad was that to protect and comfort her. In stanza two the tone and mood is one of great grief and sadness as the author remembers how her father became ill. you beached: cold, white-faced, shivering” Gives the impression that the man or her father was in hospital with some illness about to pass away. In stanza three the tone turns to one of disbelief as the author questions how her father became ill. Her loyal warrior became ill and attached to a hospital monitor. This enforce that the author never believed that becoming ill and end up in hospital was an option for him. In the last stanza the mood and tone becomes one of great sorrow and loss towards the childhood memories that she had of her father.

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Throughout this poem there are several different types of poetic devices used to enhance the images of this man’s past life. These include: personification, metaphors, similes and imagery. In the first stanza the only poetic device was personification. This was evident in the very first sentence, “Your old hat hurts me…” For this sentence the hat is suggested to be hurting someone giving it a human characteristic meaning that the sentence contains personification. It portrays the image of a little child wearing a hat that falls over his eyes.

The purpose of the imagery is to show where the poem starts off; when the author was a child describing what his earliest memories were like. In the second stanza the most significant poetic device was a metaphor. This could be found at the end of the stanza, “you beached: cold, white-faced, shivering. ” This metaphor is comparing the man or dad to a beached whale suggesting he is sick or reached a difficult obstacle. The image put forward is of the father lying in a hospital bed with some illness.

The author has gradually worked to this image, each sentence is about the author’s memories this is a recent memory, unlike the others which were from when the author was younger. In the third stanza an important sentence for imagery is, “What happened, old bull, my loyal hoarse-voiced warrior? ” The image captured in this sentence is of someone questioning how this could have happened to such a determined and wilful man. This suggests that the now old man had such an effect on the narrator/author that they thought the old man could never be stopped but they were proved wrong.

This adds to the mood of the poem as well. In the final stanza the most obvious poetic device was a simile. In the sentence, “the earth as chosen as a bed…” is where the simile is. It is comparing the earth of a grave-pit to a bed or final resting place suggesting that someone may have passed away. The image received is of a funeral where they are at the point of lowering the coffin into the grave where he shall rest for eternity. It means that the once strong and determined ‘dad’ has given in.

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Work to Be Done. (2017, Mar 04). Retrieved from

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