How can I compare and contrast the two poems "First Lesson" by Philip Booth and "Mother to Son" by Langston Hughes?
Comparisons: These two poems are both advice from a parent to a child. They also have a similar message or theme: Fortitude and endurance through life's hard times. They both employ metaphors for life (a set of stairs to climb, an ocean to swim), are written without a lot of structured rhyme or set form boundaries, and are in first person ("I"representing the parent). They also both contain great imagery-"It's had tacks in it/And splinters/And boards torn up", and "when fear cramps your heart...the light-year stars."
Contrasts: "Mother to Son" is written in strong dialect whereas "First Lesson" seems to be more standardized English. Also, the lesson on what to do when times are hard is a bit different. In "Mother to Son" she instructs her son to push on, to keep working hard: "Boy don't you turn back/don't you set down on the steps/don't you fall". So her message to her son is determined perserverance. In "First Lesson", the message is a bit different. He instructs his daughter to, "when you tire on the long thrash/to the island, lie up, and survive". In other words, relax, and "lie gently...and the sea will hold you". Take it easy, take a look around you at all of the beauty to be found from just pausing and noticing it. That will give you renewed energy. So, one is a message of continued hard work as the key to success, the other is to take a step back and gain perspective.