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Langston Hughes’ “Mother to Son” and Peter Meinke’s “Advice to My Son” work well as a means to compare and contrast varying societal conditions and viewpoints regarding life’s trials and challenges. While both poems share some similarities regarding content, each…
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Download file to see previous pages The poem primarily deals with the immediate concerns of survival and moving through the bare and sometimes dark conditions that were everyday obstacles during this time in African-American communities. She tells her son to keep moving forward: “So, boy, don’t you turn back/ Don’t you set down on the steps” (14-15). The crystal stair works well as a metaphor for life; her advice in no way addresses the nuances or more positive aspects of life, but simply the need to survive and get through the day.
Meinke’s poem, while also expressing his advice to a son, is very different in presentation and specific content. As with Hughes’ poem, the writer is speaking directly with the intended audience and offers advice through imagery and metaphor. According to Meinke, the purpose of life is to live every day fully while also planning for the future. Beauty in the world plays an important role in living a full life. The author states that “Beauty is nectar/ And nectar, in a
desert, saves” (Meinke 13-14). The poem ends on a telling note regarding the enjoyments in life and the need to savor each moment and experiences: “And always serve bread with your wine/ But son, always serve wine” (21-22). Meinke’s poem expresses sentiments that Hughes’ mother cannot fully understand; for her, because of the hardships she knows and experiences on a daily basis, the luxury of enjoying life’s more positive offerings is a foreign concept.
Hughes and Meinke have presented two differing views that juxtapose a world full of beauty with that of a more barren, colorless environment. Both poems successfully convey parental concerns and words of wisdom that are to help their respective sons live and function in the world–the main difference being that Hughes’ mother strives for simple survival, while Meinke’s parent is able to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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