Late Poem to My Father

Olds, Sharon

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Aull, Felice
  • Date of entry: Feb-09-1994


The narrator has experienced an epiphany in which she can understand objectively, even forgive, her father’s abusive behavior toward her. She has seen in her mind’s eye her father as a child, in the bleak household where "something was / not given to you, or something was / taken from you . . . "; she wishes that the love she feels for her father now could have nurtured him as a child and saved him from becoming an alcoholic adult who mistreated his family.



This is one of a number of poems in which Olds peels off the layers of abusive behavior passed down from generation to generation (see for example Of All the Dead That Have Come to Me, This Once in this database). It is remarkable for its use of imagery and interpolation to express complex behavior and a complex response.

Primary Source

The Gold Cell



Place Published

New York