Linda Pastan: Poems

Growing Up and Growing Away: Linda Pastan’s “To a Daughter Leaving Home” College

Linda Pastan’s 1988 poem, “To a Daughter Leaving Home”, concerns the idea of children growing up and leaving, whether it be for college or simply riding a bike for the first time. The speaker of the poem starts out with a nostalgic feel, addressing the child and reminiscing on a time the child was eight and being taught how to ride a bike. The speaker follows their daughter until it is hard to keep up and they can do nothing but stand and watch as the child rides away. The title of the poem draws a more in depth look at this seemingly simply affair that almost every parent and child has by connecting it to the idea of a child leaving home for a short period of time or permanently. The poem, “To a Daughter Leaving Home”, speaks on a theme of children eventually being old enough to leave home, or their parents, and how hard it is to embrace.

The title of the poem, along with the beginning, sets the scene with a nostalgic feeling of the speaker’s child growing up. The first line, “When I taught you/at eight to ride/a bicycle” sets the poem apart from the title immediately (736). The title encapsulates a sense of a child leaving for college or to live on their own while the first few lines brings the reader back to an earlier time....

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