Beyond Harm

Olds, Sharon

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Aull, Felice
  • Date of entry: Feb-09-1994
  • Last revised: Feb-21-2008


The poem expresses the devastation that parental abusiveness inflicts and the rationalizations its recipients adopt for emotional survival. In a perverse way, childhood mistreatment by her father meant the narrator was being given his attention. His death has guaranteed that the loving relationship which she had with him at the end of his life is safe from harm. So precarious did she believe his love to be that she feared even now to offend him: "he could / re-skew my life."



This is from the collection of poems written by Olds about a father's terminal illness and death, and retrospectively, about a life together (see also in this database The Waiting, The Pulling, The Dead Body, Waste Sonata).

Primary Source

The Father



Place Published

New York