What is the critical analysis of the poem "The Planned Child" by Sharon Olds?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Sharon Olds' poem "The Planned Child" is a tribute to parents who desire a child so much as to "plan" for conceiving.

The poem is a reflection of a woman who knows that her mother and father went to great lengths to plan her conception. The poem states that her mother used the cardboard from a shirt of her father to mark dates where it would intimacy would most likely result in a pregnancy.

The woman, at first, wishes that her conception would have been anything but planned. Instead, she wished that her conception would have been one of

conceived in heat,
in haste, by mistake, in love, in sex,
not on cardboard, the little x on the
rising line that did not fall again.

Later, she finds a new way to look at her conception. While sharing a glass of wine with a friend, the friend tells the woman that she

seem[s] to have been a child who had been wanted.

It is here where the woman realizes the love with which she was conceived far outweighs her wish to have been conceived in "haste" or "by mistake."

The poem, therefore, shows both children and parents what it means to desire to bring a child into the world. The poem critically examines the mentality of a woman whom had misconceptions about her birth.

Therefore, the poem beautifully shows what true love is. It shows that love can exist for one who has yet to be born, or conceived. Olds has certainly proven to readers the importance of agape, a love born out of the pure nature of love itself.

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