The poems “Ethics” and “35/10” by Linda Pastan and Sharon Olds are surprisingly alike. Each poem tells a story with the speaker being the author. She speaks directly to the audience. Although the number of lines differ, the appearance and length of each line and the appearance of each poem as a whole is very similar. The tones are similar, since both are reflective and somewhat pensive. The language and diction in both poems are simple and understandable. The authors interest is telling her story, and that is evident.
Sharon Olds’ poem, “35/10” is a narrative poem about a mother’s ealization that she is aging as her daughter is blooming. The mother is the speaker, which is also the author, and she speaks directly to the audience. The tone is admiring, maternal, pensive, reflective, and nostalgic. It is structured as an 18 line poem, each line being of almost equal length. The fact of there being 18 lines may symbolize youth, as the age 18 is the prime of one’s youth. The movement of the poem is very fluid.
It’s chronological flow takes the audience from the beginning when the mother notices her daughter, to here she wonder’s why they bloom as mother’s begin to wilt, to finally understanding that it is to replace the mother. The title simply represents the ages, the mother being 35 and the daughter being 10. The diction helps emphasize the difference between the mother and daughter. Words such as gray, silver, dry pitting, and dud represents the mother, while silken, flower, full, and round represent the daughter. There is imagery that helps the audience see the difference as well as the mother in the mirror.
For example, in ines 9-10, “she opens like a small pale flower on the tip of a cactus”, or “last chances to bear a child are falling through my body, the duds among them”. This deepens the contrast. Linda Pastan’s poem, “Ethics” is a narrative poem as well. The author, who is the speaker, tells the audience a story of her lesson of ethics. As a young woman, she had an Ethics class, but in the end the lesson the teacher attempted to teach, was only learned by the author’s own experience. The tone is reflective, pensive and appreciative.
The poem consists of 25 almost equal lines. The poem moves fluidly as the author herself changes from the beginning to the end. It develops from her memory of the class, to years later in a museum where she remembers her discussion of the class years before. It chronologically tells the audience that she goes from not knowing what to do, to understanding the real answer. The title “Ethics” shows that she didn’t understand the true meaning of the word from her class, but through age, wisdom, and experience. The diction consists of simple words that flow.
The imagery is in the description of the ainting in the museum, she states, “The colors within the frame are darker than autumn, darker even than winter – the browns of the earth, though earth’s most radiant elements burn through the canvas” which allows the audience to envision the painting with her. In conclusion, the two poems differ in the way the story is being told, but are similar in many other ways. Both poems tell a story of coming of age, but in different fashions. The structures, the diction, the tones, and even the movement are alike. Both are narrative poems with the speaker being the authors.