Through her poetry, Linda Pastan expresses clear and meaningful lessons, thoughts, and ideas. Pastan makes a point to try to make her poems extremely clear and not cleverly obscure. Her poetry takes on many different themes depending on the situation she has been placed in. Much of Pastan’s poetry coresponds to her life. Linda Olenik Pastan was born on the 27th of May in 1932 in New York City (Gaiownik, 355). Linda grew up in a Jewish family and attended attended Fieldston School in New York (355).
She later went to Radcliffe College in Massechusettes, Simmons College, and Brandeis University (Riggs, 844).
Pastan had always had an interest in writing throughout her school years, but after graduating high school she knew it would have to be her career (845). She quickly became very serious with her work and published the first few of her poems including one of her most popular, “Ethics”( Gaiownik, 356). “Ethics” is a poem having the speaker presented as a child in the classroom.
In the line The question was “if there were a fire in a musum/ which would you save, a Rembrandt painting/ or an old woman who hadn’t many years left anyhow? (Ethics, Poem Hunter).
The question poses an issue for the speaker. The answer seems obvious at first but at closer examination is hard to choose an answer. In the last line of the poem, she writes, “I know now that woman and painting and season are almost one and all beyond saving by children” the speaker decides that as a child, she is too yount to be making descision such as this (Ethics, Poem Hunter). Pastan tells us through the theme that ethics and moral values can only be learned from reflection that can only come with experience and maturity.
This theme that much comes with maturity is common in a few of Pastan’s other poems such as the poem “Something About The Trees”. In this poem the speaker is talking to her father about when she will become most herself (“Something About the Trees, PoemHunter. com). In the last stanza she says “When will I be most myself? / I remember what my father told me/ He was just past fifty then. ” Her father tells the speaker that with age your personality is more developed (“Something About the Trees, PoemHunter. com).
The title alludes to this theme . “Something About the Trees” is a title that has many meanings. The one major theme from the poem is that trees are old and represent wisedom. With every year the tree gets bigger and stronger. Pastan was a character who was very scared of having a dull life. She would worry that if she ever got married, she would become “domesticated” and her life would no longer be intresting. However, Pastan fell in love in her thirties and married Ira Pastan (Riggs, 844). The couple had three children (844).
Starting her new domesticated life, Pastan gave up poetry temporarily to tend to family needs (845). Her fast from poetry did not last long; not soon after she quit writing, her husband forced her to take it up again. Ira said he did so because he was tired of hearing her complaining about her life without poetry (845). As soon as she took up poetry again, Linda Pastan developed a new theme for her poems; the complexity of domestic life. Pastan refers to this idea as “the war between desire and dailiness” (Stine,368).
Pastan relies on images and metaphors to “infuse ordinary domestic matters with mystery and magic style reminiscent of Emily Dickinson” (Gaiownik, 355). One of her poems, “Marks” especially expresses this new theme. In the poem, she describes the grades her family gives her as a mother and wife, seemingly treating her like a student in school (“Marks”, Answers. com). Like all of Pastan’s poems it has a clear indication of theme; in the last few lines she writes, “ Wait ‘til they learn/ I’m dropping out” (“Marks”, Answers. com). The poem is clearly referring to her giving up on domestic life.
During her overall career, Linda Pastan won many awards for her poems including: the Dylan Thomas award the Swallow Press New Poetry award, the National Edownment for the Arts grant, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference John Atheron fellowship, Alice Fay di Castagnola award, the maryland Arts Council grant, the Bess Hokin prize, and the Maurice English award (Riggs, 844-845). She was also honored with the title of Poet laureate of Maryland for four years (845). Having won so many awards and honors, Linda Pastan’s poems must have something special in them that truly draws readers in.
Perhaps it was that her poems could truly relate to people’s lives. She also has many other distinct subjects. Pastan writes some of her poems about love, mortality, death, loss, hapiness, spiritual love, and grief (Stine, 368). Her style is also very popular for being so simple and clear yet very powerful. Talking about domestic life was extremely popular since most people had families and could easily relate to the subject. In conclusion, Linda Pastan expresses clear and meaninful lessons, thoughts, and ideas through her poetry.
Cite this Linda Pastan Poetry Review
Linda Pastan Poetry Review. (2016, Sep 29). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/linda-pastan-poetry-review/