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January Chance Essay, Research Paper

January Chance

January Chance is written by Mark Van Doren, the poem is about how a father and son need to patch things up before it is too late. The poem uses many descriptive literal and metaphorical details to describe the life of the father and son. It also uses a purposeful organization of its details and a meaningful title. The message that the poet tries to send is that if a person needs to talk to a loved one, then that person should do it before it?s too late or he/she will never get another chance.

The poem is written so that the literal details are shown first, then as the reader explores deeper into the meaning of the words, he/she begins to see the metaphorical details. For example, "father and boy" literally shows a father and son spending time together. When the readers look into it deeper, they wonder why it doesn?t say "Father and son" instead of "father and boy" this implies that maybe the father and son aren’t very close, or they have problems between them. The author writes this poem in the order of the life of the father and son., from life to death. The organization of the poem is created so that the readers will feel what is happening as the poem is being read. The literal meanings are said through words like time, voyaging, and seat backs. The metaphorical terms are expressed through the more thoughtful words like white noise, time, and train.

The first stanza of the poem begins talking about the relationship between the two passengers. "All afternoon before them, father and boy" tells a reader that they are together early in the day or, metaphorically, early in their lives. Also, as stated above, the father and son do not share a closeness, and maybe this is why it is so important for the father to try and start making amends now. "In a plush well, with winter sounding past" means that as time passes, the two think that there are no conflicts between them, and that the conflicts they do have will simply go away. "With winter sounding past" might imply that they are leaving behind all past memories and bitterness they might have had. "In the warm cubicle between high seat backs that slumber, voyaging vast" means they are reclining in a chair, or maybe a passenger seat of some kind of transportation, like a train. As the train speeds on toward whatever destination they chose, one of them stares out the window to avoid conversation, even though all the landscape before his eyes is nothing but a blur of colors.

The second stanza is about how the relationship between father and son works. "All afternoon to open deep things" explains that the two had plenty of time to talk and share feelings. Time is precious so the father had better start a conversation before it?s too late. "That long have waited, suitably unsaid" means they are riding in the train and they feel that it?s better to just ignore each other until the trip is over. The father is afraid that the son will have a negative reaction to what the father will say, so he keeps quiet. "Now one of them is older, and the other?s art at last has audience, has head." This line talks about how the son has matured and grown. He is now ready to understand what the father has to say. The father?s art or knowledge, now has a use, to be passed on to his son, so that he may be that much wiser.

The third stanza is about nature telling them to begin their long-awaited talk. "Has heart to take in. It is time." This phrase is saying that the son is now ready. The poem wants them to begin. "Begin, says winter, howling through the pane." Winter tells them to start, for there has been far too much silence between them. "Begin, the seat back bumps, what safer hour than this, within the somnolent loud train." The train ride is getting bumpier, signifying that the end is near. The two are alone and it is a perfect time to reconcile past grievances. The train is quiet event though there are passengers talking.

The last stanza is about the last few minutes of the father?s life. "A prison where the corridors slide on" means that the father is too late in letting his son know, that time will just keep passing by. "As the walls creak, remembering downgrade" means that the father might be remembering past memories, that he is not as young as he used to be. He regrets that he didn?t tell his son everything sooner because now he knows that he?s going to die. "Begin. But with a smile the father slumps." He now dies happy knowing he did not have to bear the trouble of speaking with his son. He feels that he is relieved of a great burden that has been passed on to him from before. "And sleeps. And so the man is never made." This means that because the father died with his knowledge and without ever passing it on, the son will never learn. He will live his life as he is now, and when he has children of his own, he will never share his knowledge with them either.

The title of the poem has literal and metaphorical meanings. The title "January Chance" by itself can mean a few things. January, a month in witch winter ends and spring is arriving, is a chance, meaning a new beginning. When thought of in a metaphorical sense, January can mean a new life or start. Chance can mean to fix something that has gone wrong, or to take advantage of an opportunity.

The poet reveals important and valuable lessons within the poem. One of them is that a person should always keep in touch with their loved ones, and keep up with the bond that comes with loving each other. Another is that they should talk and share feelings if it may help someone in the future, for new knowledge is never useless.


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