Elegy For My Father’s Father by James K Baxter

11 thoughts on “Elegy For My Father’s Father by James K Baxter”

  1. i agree.but conventionally we should look at the bias from the narrators view…my fathers father????hello…what ever happened to grandpa?the narrator might as well be resentful.

    1. I do agree with you in a way, as the evidence of his love of nature helps us to understand the poem on a deeper level because I think his love for nature results from and is intensified by the fact that he does not know how to connect with his family on an emotional level. However, my opinion is that the focus remains on the grandfather’s life as a whole. This is a really interesting thought, though!

    1. I haven’t looked at this poem in a long time, but that line has always puzzled me! I think it’s best viewed in relation to the following line, possibly as an allusion to Moses and the burning bush. In the context of the poem, fires could perhaps be linked to funeral pyres or something more metaphoric relating to emotions or the continuance of his grandfather’s lineage through him.

      1. I think of the line as the “unchanging cairn” being the grandfathers heart, and that the “pipes could set ablaze” could signify an issue in the authors past with his Grandpa, and knowing that the author was a sensitive person, the weak “pipes” could be enough to make the author feel that fire in his heart.

      2. I love your idea of the “unchanging cairn” as the grandfather’s heart. And I think the juxtaposition of “pipes… ablaze” and “aaronsrod and blossom” really supports what you’ve said about sensitivity. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

  2. Could the pipes possibly be connected to his Scottish background? Maybe the bagpipes and the flowers could be nature actually taking place in the memorial that is otherwise denied to him.

    1. I’ve never thought of “pipes” in that way! Really interesting, and it certainly fits well with “could set ablaze” in an almost synaesthetic expression of the bagpipes’ music. Not sure how that would exactly link up with setting ablaze the “aaronsrod and blossom” (I’m also not quite following what you mean by “nature actually taking place”), but yours is a fresh perspective. Thanks!

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