Themes

Fate and humanity

The concept of drawing and design runs throughout this poem, which relates to theme of fate. The boy draws the circle of one planet that is part of "one great heavenly design". Paterson moves from the description of his son to the wider concern that "We all resent/the quarter bled off by the dark". None of us can achieve perfection and there is beauty to be found in imperfection.

Father and son relationships

The pride in his son is clear from the beginning: "My boy is painting outer space." There is a sense of wonder in "My boy" as if he still in awe of the fact his son survived at all. The way he regards his son in the opening stanzas is similar to the way in which he asks him to look at the "perfect ring" in the water-jar – as a sort of miracle. The personal pronoun switches to "you" from the fifth stanza, as if he is consoling his son with this revelation.

Comparisons

This poem would work well with Waking with Russell which is a poem about his other son. It also connects with Rain under the theme of fate and humanity, as both consider the difference between our plans and the nature of reality.

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