The Death of a Parent

Pastan, Linda

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Aull, Felice
  • Date of entry: Aug-17-2001


A succinct poem [29 lines] that captures the essence of the position in which one finds oneself after a parent, or both parents, have died. Full of evocative phrases, this poem is less about grief than it is about awareness of adult responsibility and one's own future demise: "there is nobody / left standing between you / and the world . . . ."


This masterful poem encourages reflections on death and dying, the life cycle, parenthood, and our place in the scheme of things. Individuals will bring differing interpretations to the poem, depending on their own stage in life. One can speculate about the meaning of the final lines, with their beautiful imagery.

Primary Source

Carnival Evening


W. W. Norton

Place Published

New York