My Father Began as a God Essay
The very essence of the concept of change is to become something different or to arrive at a fresh, new stage, whether it is represented in life or in a text. Ian Mudie has captured change in his poem ‘My Father Began as a God’. It conveys this concept through the persona’s ever-changing perspective of his father as time goes by and that change is inevitable. Mudie has made this ambiguous, leaving out the context for a much wider audience to relate to it through their own experiences. This results in the audience to relate to it in an optimistic way, emphasizing the significance of listening to and respecting the elders. It also places the audience to trust their own father as they have a great deal to learn from them.
The language features in this poem demonstrates changing perspective that appears as an ever-going cycle. The changing from past tense to present tense not only shows the changing of time, but also the changing perspective of the persona towards his father. In the first three stanzas the poet uses past tense to signify the persona’s childhood and adolescence. This is shown that during his childhood he had looked up to his father as a godly-figure. This changes as the persona becomes an adolescence and has matured to the point where he views his father as a “foolish small old man” with faults and bigotries. In the last two stanzas, Mudie had changed his tense to present tense, representing adulthood and the changing of the persona’s perspective yet again. The perspective this time has changed back to its original state. The constant change of the persona’s perspective suggests to the audience that change is an endless cycle of which one cannot stop. Therefore he uses tense to show the audience the cycle of change.
The usage of similes again conveys the concept of change, which is shown through the persona’s changing perspective. The first line in the poem “my father began as a god” portrays the persona’s thoughts of his father at the time of his childhood. Furthermore, to emphasize this particular perspective, Mudie uses the phrase “his laws were immutable as if brought down from Sinai”. This simile signifies that the father’s rules states a lack of change and that these rules won’t differ from person to person. It highlights the father’s resistance to change his rules. Also the term “Sinai” actually symbolises the biblical Mountain Sinai, which is the representation of the mountain where the Ten Commandments were given to Moses by God. This conveys that the father’s words were considered to be the truth and the son had faith in him as if he was literally a god. This emphasizes the fact that the persona looked up to him with high standards and respect. In the last stanza, Mudie has used yet another simile to demonstrate the progression of the persona’s changing perspectives. The quote “the more I see myself as just one more of all the little men” means that the son now sees himself as an ordinary man and nothing better, representing him as being mature and an adult. It conveys the message of the son regretting his past, because he didn’t take the opportunity to learn the morals his father tried to teach him. The similes bring upon the effect of creating imagery to make the audience familiarize and understand better the changes the persona’s perspectives goes through; much like a cycle as stated before from childhood to adolescence to adulthood.
Another important poetic technique that demonstrates the changing perspective is the use of comparative and superlative language. This is seen in the beginning of the last three stanzas, “strange…stranger still…strangest of all”. The word strange suggests that it was quite a hasty change of perspective. Further down the poem, Mudie uses “stranger still” to communicate to the audience how bizarre should the persona change his perspective once again. With the last change of perspective, using the words “strangest of all” expresses the fundamental meaning that the son never predicted to see any parallels between him and his father. The progression of comparative to superlative language signifies to the audience that the persona grew up and reached adulthood, proving his maturity. The development the persona goes through conveys his changing perspectives towards his father.
In conclusion, the concept of change is apparent through the different perspectives of the persona towards his father. As the persona ages and his father passes away, he matures to the point where he compares himself to his own father and that he will never measure up to his father.