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Comment 9 of 49, added on March 8th, 2012 at 4:58 AM.
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Comment 8 of 49, added on February 12th, 2012 at 4:43 AM.
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Comment 6 of 49, added on July 11th, 2010 at 3:47 PM.
I was moved on hearing W.S. Merwin reciting this poem on the radio this
morning and later found it on your website. It is truly a beautiful and
heartfelt expression of how one feels after losing a parent. I so
appreciate the comments of Danny Hocken in clarifying the stanza 4, which
at first glance was not clear to me.
Comment 5 of 49, added on June 29th, 2009 at 7:08 PM.
I heard Merwin recite "Yesterday" on Bill Moyers Journal, yesterday,
Is this what poetry is to do? A lump in my throat? A catching of my breath?
Thoughts of my father on his deathbed, looking up at me, also considerate,
as though I had something more important to do than to be with him during
those last days?
- Mr. Merwin, you brought back those feelings that I had then--and more you
brought back to me my father, my Dad, as much a part of me as I am myself,
a missing part of me, but that still resides in me, Oh, Dad, if only...
Michael E Katz
from United States
Comment 4 of 49, added on November 28th, 2007 at 2:11 AM.
(I always feel inadequate to comment on great poems like this! Ah, now I'm
experiencing de ja vu.)
The only aspect of this poem I don't understand, and therefore will write
about that: is the title. I want to write about why it's called
The speaker of the poem tries in a brief, courageous moment to interrupt
his friend 'I say the last time I saw my father' in stanza 4. But soon he
is back to just saying 'oh I say' in stanza 6.
I interpret that the speaker, although not capable of speaking of his
father, has lost his father. He says 'feeling again the cold/of my fathers
hand the last time' stanza 6.
The death of his father and I suppose the sadness and guilt he experiences
as he listens to the story by his friend who 'is older than I am'. Here,
the speaker is even more distant because he just looks 'out the window'.
So all this time, the speaker is thinking of Yesterday, the day he lost his
father. I suppose that's why his friend is talking to him about his father
and maybe wants to learn something about relationships from the speaker,
like how to talk to his father, but the speaker has nothing to say, or if
he does, he's too sad to say it. This lack of communication from the
speaker to the friend symbolizes or is a metaphor for the lack of
communication between the speaker or the friend and their fathers.
from United States
Comment 3 of 49, added on February 23rd, 2007 at 7:50 AM.
you know this poem is related to my life now i usually see my father
Comment 2 of 49, added on February 13th, 2007 at 12:53 PM.
is there anyone who has lost a parent who wouldn't understand this poem's
meaning? it goes beyond the parent/child relationship and probably applies
to relationships in general especially the familial...if we give 99% to a
relationship, we feel guilty about the 1% we saved for ourselves...even if
we were given another chance our actions would not be different...it speaks
of a universal emotion...guilt is inherent in man's nature...simply said,
it's "inherited"...i've always doubted those who never "owned" this
ilene novick from United States
Comment 1 of 49, added on November 8th, 2005 at 11:14 AM.
While reading the poem you don't have to guess what the writer is trying to
say. I do think that the writer could have wrote it in a different form.
Victoria W Kline from United States
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