The two poems successfully bring about the emotions of sadness and loss by conflicting feelings dealing with death. Both the poems are narrated from the parent’s view addressing his or her child that has died or is about to, and this brings about emotions of grief in the reader as well.
The two poems set the mood and atmosphere in the first stanza. In “Refugee mother and child” Chinua Achebe says “for a son she would soon have to forget” brings about sadness and loss because she cannot do anything about it and tells the reader the poem is about a dying son she cannot save. The reader can imagine what she is going through as a mother watching her child knowing he is about to die soon. In the poem “On my first sonne” the first thing the father says is the word “farewell” and from this the reader can tell the poem is about the father bidding farewell to his treasured son. In the same way Chinua Achebe tries to bring about sadness so does Ben Johnson as they both watch what they have lost or are about to loose.
‘On my first sonne’ and ‘Refugee mother and child’ both have many biblical allusions and the first poem refers to the relationship between Jesus and God because the child was Ben Jonson’s first born just like Jesus and God. In the first stanza Chinua Achebe says “no Madonna and Child could touch that picture of a mother’s tenderness” is a metaphor and refers to Mother Mary and Jesus when he was a child, it also is a comparison between a regular “mother and child” and a “helpless mother and child” which brings about sadness.
Both poems show that the parent’s sons meant a lot to them and their death caused a great deal of heartache and pain. In the poem “On my first sonne” Ben Jonson says “my sinne was too much hope of thee, lov’d boy” shows how attached the father was to his son and loving him too much was his sin because when things are done in extreme they are seen as sin’s. In the other poem Chinua Achebe says “most mothers had long ceased to care but not this one” again indicates to the reader how much she valued her son even though the rest of the mothers had given up because it’s unavoidable due to poverty and diseases, like the one her son had.
In “Refugee mother and child” there are many olfactory images when the writer says “the air was heavy with odours of diarrhoea of unwashed children” makes the reader feel pity for these children and they can easily visualize their state. “Washed-out ribs” and “dried up bottoms” clearly indicates to the reader that the children suffered from kwashiorkor. In the other poem Ben Jonson brings about images of peace and serenity when he says ‘rest in soft peace and, ask’d, say here doth lye” here he uses a gentle tone and the reader starts to visualize the son being in heaven or better surroundings which brings about the feelings of happiness.