Father and Son

Kunitz, Stanley

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: Jul-11-1994


Through “suburbs and the falling light,” the poet follows his father, mile after mile, trying to reach “the secret master of my blood.” He tries to speak with his father, to tell him how things turned out--they lost the house, his daughter married, the poet “lived on a hill that had too many rooms . . . . ” Finally, at the water's edge, the poet cries out for his father to return; he implores him not to jump into the water. The father turns his head and reveals “The white ignorant hollow of his face.”


The poet tries to encounter his dead father, who evidently committed suicide by drowning. He seeks somehow to heal this ultimate separation (“I'll wipe the mudstains from your clothes”), he pleads for more instruction about life, but there is no way for him to reach his father across the “ignorant hollow” of death.

Primary Source

The Poems of Stanley Kunitz: 1928-1978


Little, Brown

Place Published