Advice To My Son Meineke Analysis Essay

Peter Meinke’s “Advice to My Son” is, as the title suggests, a poem on how to live one’s life, from the perspective of one who is older and more experienced. In a fashion both witty and wise, the parent advises the son, and by extension the reader, on the dangers and delights life holds in store. In only twenty-three lines, Meinke conveys a powerful sense of the multiple and often opposing aspects of life: the practical and the idealistic, the physical and the spiritual, the temporal and the long-term, the sensual and the intellectual, the secular and the religious, the aesthetic and the mundane. He does this both directly and indirectly, through contradictory statements as well as sudden and at first seemingly incongruous shifts in imagery, diction, rhyme, and tone. He suggests that the key to a successful life lies in the ability to reconcile, or at least accept and cope with, very different desires and needs. A sense of humor helps, too.

The narrator, who is never specifically identified as the mother or father, begins by suggesting, somewhat paradoxically, that the son should both live for the moment and plan for the future. Because the days “go fast,” he is told to live them “as if each one may be your last.” Yet only a few lines later the reader is told that they “go slow” and it is necessary to “plan long range.” The narrator admits it is a “trick” to pull this off, implying that there is a danger if one does not do...

(The entire section is 447 words.)

In this poem, a parent--either a mother or father--provides guidance to a son about how to live life. In the first stanza, the parent suggests that the son must "live your days / as if each one may be your last" (lines 1-2). The son must realize that life can be fleeting and, unfortunately, can end at any time. However, at the same time, the son must "plan long range" (line 5). If the son...

In this poem, a parent--either a mother or father--provides guidance to a son about how to live life. In the first stanza, the parent suggests that the son must "live your days / as if each one may be your last" (lines 1-2). The son must realize that life can be fleeting and, unfortunately, can end at any time. However, at the same time, the son must "plan long range" (line 5). If the son survives, he must plan ahead so that his days resemble heaven more than hell.

The parent's advice in the second stanza follows along the same lines, as it involves suggestions that the son balance the practical with the beautiful. For example, the son must plant not only peonies and roses, which are for beauty alone, but also practical foods such as tomatoes, squash, spinach, and others. This idea is metaphorical. The parent means that the son must cultivate activities that are for beauty at the same time that he attends to practical matters in life. Similarly, the son should marry a beautiful wife but, in a practical vein, investigate the wife's mother before he marries to see that she has aged well and is a good person. The son can be soulmates with one person but just work practically alongside another. In the last two lines, the parent suggests that the son always have bread--the practical part of life--along with wine--the beautiful part of life. 

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