Introduction & Overview of To a Sad Daughter

This Study Guide consists of approximately 27 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of To a Sad Daughter.
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To a Sad Daughter Summary & Study Guide Description

To a Sad Daughter Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains For Further Study on To a Sad Daughter by Michael Ondaatje.

"To a Sad Daughter" appears in Michael Ondaatje's 11th collection of poetry, Secular Love, published in 1984. In "Coming Through: A Review of Secular Love," critic Sam Solecki comments that the poems in this book read "more like the chapters of a novel than parts of a collection." "To a Sad Daughter," however, can easily be pulled from the rest and enjoyed alone, for it encompasses a theme common in many of our lives and presents it in a striking, not-so-common way: a father's love for his daughter and his longing to guide her "into the wild world" (line 64) gently, but with eyes wide open.

While there have been countless father-daughter poems written over the decades, not many include hockey goalies, purple moods, and Creatures From the Black Lagoon. Ondaatje's poetry is rich in all forms of human experience, and his use of everyday language and everyday events to define that experience makes his work both compelling and accessible. "To a Sad Daughter" is written while the speaker sits at his daughter's bedroom desk when she is not present. At one point, he refers to the poem as his "first lecture" to the 16-year-old, but it is a lecture full of love and wonderment and admitted anxiety, not anger and rebuke.

While the title identifies the daughter as melancholy or grieving, she is not actually present in the work, and so we must consider the word "sad" as only an interpretation of the father's. After reading the poem, we may also consider that the doleful adjective is really a reflection of the speaker's own emotion and that he too experiences the apprehension, blue funk, and growing pains that his adolescent daughter does.

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This section contains 282 words
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Poetry for Students
To a Sad Daughter from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.