Father’s Words by Matt Melone

‘Father’s Words’ speaks on themes of family, the power of speech and memory. The speaker travels through his own memories to recollect and share the words that tie his father to physical moments and poignant emotions. 

 

Summary of Father’s Words

‘Father’s Words’ by Matt Melone is a touching, yet humorous poem about a speaker’s recollections of his father’s most common sayings. 

In the first line of each stanza, the poet uses an exclamation point as well as indention to draw attention to one of his father’s favourite phrases. They range in common use and ease of interpretation. The lines that follow give the reader some idea of the context in which these phrases might be used. ‘Father’s Words’ ends with a moving stanza that gets right to the heart of a father’s love for his child.

 

Poetic Techniques in Father’s Words

Father’s Words’ by Matt Melone is a seven stanza poem that’s divided into sets of five lines, known as quintains. Each of these stanzas follows a very simple rhyme scheme of ABBCC, changing end sounds as the poet saw fit. 

Melone also makes use of several other poetic techniques. These include caesura, alliteration and enjambment. The first, caesura occurs when a line is split in half. Sometimes with punctuation, sometimes not. For example, “Rain or shine, hot or cold” in the first stanza. 

Alliteration occurs when words are used in succession, or at least appear close together, and begin with the same letter. It goes hand in hand with repetition, the more general use and reuse of a specific technique, word, tone or phrase within a poem. It can be seen in lines two of stanzas three and four. 

Lastly, another important technique commonly used in poetry is enjambment. It occurs when a line is cut off before its natural stopping point. Enjambment forces a reader down to the next line, and the next, quickly. One has to move forward in order to comfortably resolve a phrase or sentence. There are examples throughout the text, but a few include the transitions between lines four and five of the fifth stanza and four and five of the sixth stanza. 

 

Structure of Father’s Words

Another important aspect to consider is the structure. Upon a first glance, it’s obvious the poet varied the indention in order to achieve a specific effect. The second through fifth lines of each stanza are indented in to a greater extent than the first. This choice means the reader’s attention will necessarily be caught by the first lines. It also means that for one reason or another, the poet considered the first lines to be more important, or deserving of greater attention. 

When a reader looks closer, it’s clear that each of these lines ends with an exclamation point. It is soon revealed that these lines are set apart because they’re the poet’s “father’s words”. Some of these sayings like “Let’s get cracking!” Are idioms others, like “Love you most!” are simple phrases that have grown more meaningful with time and repetition. 

 

Father’s Words – Poem

Pretty day for the ducks!

Rain or shine, hot or cold

This saying never grew old

Twinkling eyes, a race to say

Twas the first greeting of each day

 

Let’s get cracking!

Come now, no time to waste

Do the work and make your haste

The sun is up, as you should be

Get it done for all to see

 

Bite the bullet!

Work hard, play hard

Pay attention to the yard

No whine, just finish the task

Do it right, as I ask

 

Lower the boom!

Trouble sought, trouble found

No free pass, make no sound

Misbehave, there’s hell to pay

No excuses, come what may

 

One time, one time!

Work is finished, then time to play

Get the clubs, it’s golf today

Talk to the ball, hunt the pole

One time, one time, find the hole

 

Martini time!

He had the watch that told his time

Time to relax, but not with wine

We all knew when the watch would ring

It’s martini time, let it sing

 

Love you most!

When twilight came, after work and play

Whether good or bad had carried the day

We always knew, like heaven’s host

He always said, I love you most.

 

Analysis of Father’s Words

Stanza One 

Pretty day for the ducks!

Rain or shine, hot or cold

This saying never grew old

Twinkling eyes, a race to say

Twas the first greeting of each day

In the first stanza of ‘Father’s Words,’ the speaker begins with the first of his father’s sayings. In this case, the phrase “Pretty day for the ducks!” This refers to the weather and how it’s unsuitable for people to be outside, but ducks are likely loving it. The lines four lines reflect on the moments the speaker’s father used this saying. They are fairly even rhythmically and make use of caesura. 

The speaker expresses his joy over how the saying never “grew old” no matter how many times it was said. The second half of the fourth line and the fifth line seem to suggest that the father said this line every day no matter the weather. It is easy to see how this would quickly become memorable, and even take on a humorous quality for those who live in the house. The very simple rhyme scheme in these lines, and those which follow, create an upbeat mood that’s reflected in the poet’s tone. He addresses each saying with pleasure and clear enjoyment in the recollection. 

 

Stanza Two 

Let’s get cracking!

Come now, no time to waste

Do the work and make your haste

The sun is up, as you should be

Get it done for all to see

The next set of lines in ‘Father’s Words’ begin with an idiom or a group of words that has a meaning separate from the words themselves. The phrase “Let’s get cracking!” is explained in the next lines if it is unfamiliar to readers. It would be said when there was “no time to waste”. The father might express his desire to hurry someone along and make sure they ‘Do the work” and “Get it done for all to see”. 

There is also an effective use of alliteration in these lines with the words “cracking” and “Come” in lines one and two. The two hard “c’s” in a row mimic another sound, that of something cracking. 

 

Stanza Three

Bite the bullet!

Work hard, play hard

Pay attention to the yard

No whine, just finish the task

Do it right, as I ask

Another idiom, “Bite the bullet!” Makes no sense on the surface, but a fluent speaker of English or at least someone fluent in English idioms will immediately recognize its meaning. When the father used this phrase it was in order to encourage someone. They should stop whining and “finish the task”. The third line of this stanza provides the reader with a little more context than the previous. The speaker references “the yard” so it makes sense to imagine the father talking to his child or children, urging them to “finish the task” quickly. 

 

Stanza Four 

Lower the boom!

Trouble sought, trouble found

No free pass, make no sound

Misbehave, there’s hell to pay

No excuses, come what may

A less common phrase, “Lower the boom!” Alludes to trouble. Someone ‘sought” trouble and found it. In the father’s house there were no free passes or “excuses”. Another phrase is inserted into the fourth line of this stanza “hell to pay”. It’s clear that if someone in the household acted out, they could expect to be punished accordingly. 

 

Stanza Five 

One time, one time!

Work is finished, then time to play

Get the clubs, it’s golf today

Talk to the ball, hunt the pole

One time, one time, find the hole

The next phrase, and the one that follows, seems more personal to the poet’s father. “One time, one time!” appears to have been the father’s go-to saying when it was time to play. In the succession of ‘Father’s Words,’ the speaker has taken the reader through the beginning of the day, to the start and climax of the working hours. Now, it’s time to relax and “Get the clubs”. 

It becomes clear that golfing is one of the father’s passions. This fact likely holds a prominent place in the poet’s memory of him. 

 

Stanza Six 

Martini time!

He had the watch that told his time

Time to relax, but not with wine

We all knew when the watch would ring

It’s martini time, let it sing

The sixth stanza is more amusing, it also takes the subject matter away from that which might be appropriate and enjoyed by a younger audience. Now, the father’s watch tells him its “Martini time!” He was always ready for the minutes to tick by and for the watch to ring out in his favour. To him, it was a song, something to be relished and looked forward to. Relaxation goes hand in hand with martinis. 

 

Stanza Seven 

Love you most!

When twilight came, after work and play

Whether good or bad had carried the day

We always knew, like heaven’s host

He always said, I love you most.

In the final stanza of ‘Father’s Words,’ it is suggested that the father is no longer alive. A closer reader might’ve guessed at this conclusion considering the use of the past tense throughout the previous six stanzas. But, with references to “twilight” and “heaven’s host” that the father might not be around anymore. Additionally, the final use of “said” rather than “says” in the last line makes it appear as though he no longer says “I love you most”. 

While the rest of the poem is upbeat, humorous and entertaining, the final stanza is more subdued. It’s clear the poet is concluding his reflections on his father’s sayings and wants to end with the one that’s the most meaningful to him. 

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