Both the poems explore close but different relationship using extended metaphors that employ the use of tropes with very much the same style drawing on the same element of fear, while using different themes and tones.
Both the poems “The River Merchant's Wife: A Letter” and "Mother" elaborate close relationships. While the former centers on husband-wife relationship, the latter converges on mother-son relationship. The tone of the first poem is painful, lonesome and aching for the return of loved one. The second poem carries an affectionate tone. This is evident in the very first word which is “mother.” This term carries an important significance as it is meant to portray the affectionate relationship. Otherwise, the writer could also have referred to the mother by her real name.
The theme of “mother” is success and failure. This becomes ample clear in the lines “to fall or fly”. The poet is not sure if moving further away from his mother would bring success or failure. This is very much separate from the other poem which explains how the separation of a husband from a wife is resulting in emotional pain for the wife. Therefore, both these poems explain different, but close relationships with different themes and with a different tone. Another central theme in the poem “Mother” is the bond of attachment that exists between a mother and son. This theme also extends to the time when the son becomes an adult man and gets on with his independent life. On a closer examination of this poem, it is revealed that the entire poem is an extended metaphor that employs trope (Baar, 1971).The same is true for the other poem. Starting right from the beginning lines, the poem explains how the mother helps her son to measure the house. As the son grows up to become more and more independent, the poet explains how he is moving further away from his mother by shifting upstairs. The measuring tape is extended as the mother tries holding on to the end of the spool which is an attempt by her to keep control over her son.
Like the other poem in which the wife laments about the distance with her husband, and the importance of the husband in her life that she needs, in the “mother”, the poet tries to elucidate that the son despite growing up is still in need of her mother.
'Any distance greater than a single span
requires a second pair of hands'
This highlights the importance of a mother in the life of a son. The measurement of the house takes on the form of trope, for example:
'The acres of the walls, the prairies of the floors'
This conveys the image of wide empty spaces. They symbolize that the attempts of the son to have an independent life of his own. There is a feeling of adventure in the exploration of these wide empty spaces (Geddes, 1922).
These wide empty spaces and moving away of the ...