Theme

Father and son relationship

In this poem, Paterson reflects on the joy his son has brought him. Prior to his birth, the poet was mezzo del cammin, middle-aged and lacking direction. Russell brings the poet such joy, represented by his son’s smile, to the extent that Paterson says he is set on a true path – one of purpose and meaning. Paterson describes how the child lit this path, revealing to him the way forward.

The use of the simile in the final lines comparing the smile to a river pouring through them evocatively describes the mutual love they have for each other that flows continuously. Through the love he has for his son, the poet takes his position amongst men, as he finally realises his role and identity, giving him a new status in the world.

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