What can be a critical appreciation of the poem "My Parents Are Faking" by Ted Scheu?My Parents Are Fakingby Ted ScheuI’m pretty sure my parents arepretending they are sick.I know because I...

What can be a critical appreciation of the poem "My Parents Are Faking" by Ted Scheu?

My Parents Are Faking
by Ted Scheu

I’m pretty sure my parents are
pretending they are sick.
I know because I taught them both
to do that little trick.

You blow your nose and hold your head
and claim your brain is breaking.
And so, a pro like me would know
my folks are clearly faking.

A little thing I learned in school
convinced me I am right.
My parents are supposed to meet
my principal tonight.

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

No matter what the poem, a critical appreciation will follow the same basics, though details of analysis will, of course, be different. We'll use "My Parents Are Pretending" by Ted Scheu, originally published in the Meadowbrook poetry collection, Rolling in the Aisles (2004).

A critical appreciation is also called a critical analysis or a literary analysis. In these analyses, it is necessary to identify and analyze various parts of the poem. An important element is the title and theme. Title and theme work together to illustrate the meaning and importance of the poem. In this case, the title points out the theme, which is that the poetic speaker's parents are just like him because they too fake illness to escape something unpleasant: "a pro like me would know / my folks are clearly faking."

In your appreciation, the poetic elements and the poetic techniques will be identified and discussed. Elements are the things that all poems have. Some of these are theme, mood, tone, point of view, poetic persona, and structure.

The mood is the emotional feeling within the poem, in this case, it is cheerful and playful: "I taught them both / to do that little trick." In this poem, the tone and the mood match (plus some ironic tone) but, in some poems, the tone and mood may be different.

The tone is the feeling the persona has about the subject or characters of a poem. For example, in "My Duchess," the mood of the poem is scary because the narrative poem tells the story about how the Duke (probably) murdered the Duchess, but the tone is bored and disinterested because the Duke, who is more than a little mentally unstable, is telling the story. It is the poetic persona, also called the poetic speaker, who conveys the tone. In this poem, the persona is the little boy discussing his parents (maybe the boy is even the poet, Ted Scheu, himself).

Structure is an important element to analyze. Structure describes whether the poem has a measured meter or is free verse; whether it has rhyme or is blank verse (no rhymes); what the meter and rhyme scheme are; whether it has stanzas or stanzaic paragraphs or no divisions at all; whether it is lyric (expressive of feeling) or narrative (telling a story) or another genre type, like dramatic monologue.

In this poem, you can tell that there are line-end rhymes on every other line: e,g,. breaking - faking. We describe this kind of rhyme scheme like this: abcb defe ghih. This shows that every 1st and 3rd line of each stanza has differing end-words while every 2nd and 4th line of each stanza has rhyming end-words.

I've gotten you started on the poetic elements in a critical appreciation. What remains for you to do is to find and analyze the poetic techniques the poet uses. Techniques are the optional choices a poet makes to add descriptive meaning to his theme. Some techniques are imagery, symbolism, metaphor, simile, personification and irony.

To get you started, I'll explain that there is irony in two places (irony: the occurrence of something different from what is normally expected). The first irony is that the persona's parents have learned his tricks from him. The second irony is that they seem to be hiding from the school principal, which the son would be expected to do, not the parents. Now you can proceed to analyze other poetic elements and techniques for your critical appreciation.