A Deadly Combination

Essay by cdrewCollege, UndergraduateA+, September 2004

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For every two children that are born, one person dies in the world, causing this society to be very overpopulated. Poets tend to use life as a theme in many of their works; however, death is also used quite often. Three poems in particular come to mind when the theme of death comes about. "My Son, My Executioner", written by Donald Hall, uses the relationship between a father and son, showing the father that with every day he is getting closer to death. Emily Dickenson writes in "Because I Could Not Stop For Death" how it is impossible to prevent death from stopping on your doorstep, and Jean Toomer's "Reapers" is a self-explanatory poem showing that death happens all the time and most people won't stop what they are doing to care. These three different views on death loom over every person, causing them to think about it, usually at least once a day.

When someone becomes a parent, they are always left questioning if what they are doing is right for their child's future. But when that tiny bundle of joy comes into the picture, it also leaves the parent thinking about their own life. Hall uses irony in the very first line of the poem when the speaker calls his son an executioner. In line five, he wishes an oxymoron of "Sweet death" to his son. The speaker does not necessarily mean these things about him, but is rather comparing his son to an executioner. The son is seen as being immortal compared to his parents. "[We] observe enduring life in you/ and start to die together" (Lines 11-12). They know that their son will live beyond their own years and that forces them to accept the fact that death will come eventually. Every breath...