"Ancestor" by Thomas Kinsella is about the relationship between an elderly lady and a young child. The child and elderly lady are related. Its is most likely a grandmother and grandchild relationship. The poem demonstrates the gap between the young and old generations and how it can be difficult for the two generations to communicate. The poem has no rhyme scheme and the stanzas are all of different lengths. The poet put imagery to good use in this poem which helps facilitate the readers imagination of what is going on. The narrator of the poem is the grandchild and therefore is told from the point of view of the child. The tone of the poem has elements of gloominess and darkness.
The first phrase of the first stanza is of great significance because it establishes the relationship between the grandmother and grandchild. The child "was going up to say something" to his grandmother "and stopped" when he saw her.
This implies that the child is afraid or intimidated by the grandmother. He then goes on to describe her profile saying that it was old and "dark like a hunting bird's." The simile, dark like a hunting bird's adds a touch of mystery to the poem and grandmother. A hunting bird flies high and is not easily seen, its hides its possessions and itself from others and what it is thinking is unknown; one never knows what prey it will attack.
"It was the way she perched on the high stool" further compares the grandmother to a bird. A bird perches on a high branch of a tree just as the grandmother perched on the high stool. "With one fist" the grandmother grips the "side barrier round the desk." This might be because she has seen something in the desk that...