English 12 Per. 2
November 2, 2010
The Secret Heart
By: Robert Tristin Coffin
Across the years he could recall
His father one way best of all
In the stillest hour of night
The boy awakened to a light
Half in dreams, he saw his sire
With his great hands full of fire
The man had struck a match to see
If his son slept peacefully
He held his palms each side the spark
His love had kindled in the dark
His two hands were curved apart
In the semblance of a heart
He wore, it seemed to his small son,
A bare heart on his hidden one,
A heart that gave out such a glow
No son awake could bear to know
It showed a look upon a face
Too tender for the day to trace
One instant, it lit all about,
And then the secret heart went out
But it shone long enough for one
To know that hands held up the sun.
It is written in 11 stanzas and each stanza is a rhymed couplet. As the stanzas follow, it
helps to move the poem its climax, the poem towards the real love of a father toward his
son. At the last stanza where the speaker realizes that his father’s love was like the sun.
The father has two hearts, one the boy sees and the secret one. Fathers never show
strong love directly. They do it in the quiet secret way. This is the climax. There is an
impressive rhyme couplet that follows the pattern of aabbccddeeffgghhiijjgg.
This poem utilizes a lot of imagery to show the full of love of father toward his son. As
sight imagery, “match” is used to show the importance of thing in this poem because
imagery of match is small but bright. It pushes darkness away like the sun in space so
he can see his son slept peacefully. Also this match suggests his secret heart of love
because he protects it with his hands. Father tries to keep silent and darkness to his son
so he shows only little but for the son it equals light of the sun because of father’s
expression on his face. In addition, “fire”, “spark” and “dark” are also used for the same
reason. As the sound imagery, the father “struck(s)” the match to see his son if he is
sleeping peacefully or not at midnight because he is worried about his son all the time.
Finally, “Secret Heart” shows exactly father’s secret love to his son as a “In the
semblance of a heart (love)” (12)
This poem expresses tone of father’s secret love for his son. The poet likes this father to
son love and maybe he had similar experience of it. The tone shows that father’s love is
mysterious because he shows it in secret. Fathers cannot show their love directly, so
maybe the son can think father does not love him very much.. It is not true because
poet compares father’ love to the bright sun. The tone is very deep and sincere in
feeling and has feeling of showing a secret to the reader.
Other Stylistic Devices:
The poem has alliterations such as “he saw his sire” (5) to make a good rhythm.
Also, it uses personification such as “His love had kindled in the dark” (10) and
“Too tender for the day to trace” (18) which shows a father’s secret love because he
holds the light in the dark to avoid wake the son up and day are hardly to see because it
is too tender which represents the secret as well. When the son realizes this kind of fact,
“A bare heart on his hidden one” it means that the writer hyperboles the feeling of the
son. In addition, there is a connotation because “sun” represents the life as well as the
son himself. The writer plays with the sound “sun” as the “son”.
The theme for this poem is father’s love to his son always hidden. The writer
emphasizes that however father does not show his love to his son directly, he loves his
son as secretly. This poem tells to the reader that father’s love to his son is secretly but it
is big honest and kind.
I really interested in this poem because usually fathers seldom show deep love for sons.
For example, my father does not show his love to my brother very much. Maybe my
brother does not understand how much love father has for him. I think it is hard for
Japanese father to show his deep love for his children, especially the son. Also, children
do not notice that fathers love them because in Japan, father is one of four fearful
things: earthquake, lightning, fire, and father. For Japanese children father’s love is
difficult to see. That’s why I am so interested in this poem because this father really
loves his son but maybe he never shows it openly.