Form and structure

Paterson uses the Petrarchan sonnet form, but he reverses the order of the usual structure, with the sestet beginning the poem before being followed by the octave. This upturning of the conventional structure perhaps mimics the impact that having a child has on the poet, who prior to this had been moving through life, merely existing.

In the sestet, Paterson portrays the moment of waking up next to his son. The shorter sestet is appropriate here, as it is a small, innocuous event that could easily be missed. Although the image of his smiling son comes to represent the joy he bestows upon his father, the poet, a joy which permeates the rest of the poem.

The octave, the longer section, addresses Russell and explains the positive impact he has had on his father. His arrival has interrupted the speaker’s course through middle age, and this line is importantly placed at the midpoint between the two sections to highlight this. Through delighting in his son’s presence, the poet finds his path through, rediscovering his zest for life. The final lines act as a climactic moment in this revelation with this use of the exclamatory How fine, I thought, this waking amongst men! followed by the confirmation of his love in the act of a kiss, which consolidates his previous sentiments.