Awkward Ages to be an Orphan
January 4, 2012 4:26 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend poems to read for this particular existential contemplation?

I am looking for poems, contemporary or not, that address the specific existential crisis/contemplation that occurs when one surpasses the age that their parent was when the parent died. I'd love it if you could recommend specifically to the father/son relationship, but any parent/child combo would be fine. I feel this is a not uncommon crisis and not uncommonly discussed in literature, and that while I have little trouble unearthing poems that consider a parent's mortality, I am looking to pinpoint this particular aspect of it--when one approaches and exceeds the life of a parent. I am feeling that the crisis is exquisitely keen when the parent died young.

Thanks, friends.
posted by rumposinc to Writing & Language (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Seems like something Philip Larkin would write about. Or maybe W.D. Snodgrass? Sorry I can't think of one in particular off the top of my head, but if I find anything after perusing a few books, I'll come back and let you know.
posted by SomaSoda at 5:36 PM on January 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

SomaSoda--right. I'll look there, too. And I was also thinking CD Wright, Li Young Lee, Gary Soto, but haven't found anything in there as of yet.
posted by rumposinc at 5:46 PM on January 4, 2012

The Long Pale Corridor is an anthology of poems that I found helped me more than almost anything else after my mom died. I am almost certain there are poems in there that touch on the issue of being older now than your parents were when they died, but infuriatingly I have mislaid my copy so can't check for you. If you wanted to invest in an excellent and moving book of poetry about bereavement, I would recommend it ...
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 5:48 PM on January 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Came here to suggest Li-Young Lee, as well. The father/son relationship is a common theme in his poems; so is death. But I can't think of anything that speaks of what you're looking for in particular.
posted by pleasebekind at 11:00 AM on January 7, 2012

Bill Brown, "The Light That follows Rivers".

Joan Larkin, "Afterlife".
posted by paduasoy at 12:38 PM on September 27, 2012

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