Monday, November 1, 2010

Rita Dove's "Friedrich Augustus Bridgetower Discovers the Purposes of Fatherhood"

In Rita Dove’s Sonata Mulattica the poem “Friedrich Augustus Bridgetower Discovers the Purposes of Fatherhood” gives insight into the a parent’s devotion for his child, which stems solely from the child’s potential for wealth and fame. As a father, the older Bridgetower is oblivious to his son George’s talent for sound, the “purring bees and crickets, sighing leaves, / hammer clack from the courtyard” that mesmerize him and reveal his genius.

Bridgetower’s failure to see his son’s startling aptitude results in a plan to return him to his mother until “Master Haydn / reaches down to cup / the rough head, murmurs: There’s music in there.” Bridgetower proclaims “let’s squeeze it out of him!” revealing a greed which lies in opposition to the natural love that one would expect from a father. Thus, Dove creates a sense of sympathy early on for George who had a great gift for music but who would be forever (ab)used because of that gift.

[By Emily Phillips]

Related post:
Rita Dove’s Sonata Mulattica

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