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English Literature

Jon Stallworthy: The Almond Tree

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The Almond Tree tells the story of the birth of Stallworthy’s son. The narrator is rushing to the hospital in the first few stanzas, and then parks beneath an almond tree coming into blossom. The joy of the birth is rapidly overshadowed by the narrator’s discovery that his son has Down’s Syndrome. This prompts a reflection by the narrator, described as an out of body experience. A part of the narrator dies on receiving the news – "This was my first death" – and he is reborn into a new life. The almond tree then blossoms, becoming a metaphor for the change in the poet.

It is a poem about becoming a father, and the reactions to discovering your newborn child has a serious condition.

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