In Owen Sheers “Coming Home” Sheers makes multiple use of metaphor to convey the theme of separation between parents and children which creates a longing for the past. I feel that the family wishes they were in the past when their son was still a boy. This poem contrasts childhood and adulthood and more generally the concepts of aging and mortality. The poem is free verse meaning that there is no specific structure to the stanzas and no rhyme this allows the poem to flow without the restrictions of rhythm and rhyme . The poem also conveys sadness by its use of present tense while reflecting on the past in contrast to many poems where the past is seen as inferior to the present, in this poem, the past is glorified as a time when the boy’s family was healthier and in a general sense, happier because they were together and not separated.
The poem’s opening line “my mother’s hug is awkward” creates a vivid image in the reader’s head because a hug has positive connotations which are contradicted by the use of the word “awkward”. The theme of the separation between parents and children is then reiterated in the next line “as if the space between her arms was reserved for a child, not this body of a man”.The second line makes it clear to the reader that the hug is awkward because although the son has grown to be a man the mother is still the same as she was when he was a child although she has clearly aged. Or perhaps this could be interpreted as the mother longing for her child back because she believes that life was better in the past. And finally, at the end of the stanza this line ”The flour makes her over, dusting
The hairs on her cheek, smoothing out wrinkles”, presents the image to the reader that when she kneads the dough it reminds her son of a time when her wrinkles did not exist and when mortality was an afterthought.
In stanza two, the line “he works on a hole that reappears every winter” refers to the father’s relationship with his son which deteriorates throughout the year and when they meet each year he works on trying to fix it. The son also refers to his father as “dad” suggesting a close bond between the two however there is a tinge of sadness because the father is conveyed as a man who is always working despite it not being necessary and thus suggesting that he wants to distance himself from the family. This lack of connection the son has with his family could be due to him not rising to his potential and being accepted by his family or not being the prosperous son he once was.
In the final stanza, the grandfather is seen by the poet as an old man who once brought the family together but is now faced with the concept of mortality. As the grandfather pours the wine “his unsteady hand makes the neck of the bottle shiver”. This is clearly due to the aging of the grandfather because when people become old their muscles become weaker and they tend to shake. The last line however finishes the poem perfectly in conveying the theme of the separation of parents with their children “It is a tune he plays faster each year,” finishes the poem with the idea that and the years go by the grandfather ages more as the shaking will become more prominent and thus louder throughout the years.