BC: "Philip Booth Biography." Poets.org. Academy of American Poets. Web. 21 Mar. 2012.
FC: First Lesson by Phillip Booth
1: Philip Booth
2: Philip Booth was born in Hanover, New Hampshire on October 8th, 1925.
3: Booth grew up in a humble house in Castine, Maine. Booth would in later years incorporate his biographical childhood settings into much of his poetry.
4: Booth served in the US Air Force during World War II from 1944-45.
5: After the war, Booth studied English at Dartmouth, where he was taught by Robert Frost.
6: Booth went on to earn his M.A. in English from Columbia University before returning to Dartmouth to teach English.
9: Booth first published his poetry in his 1957 collection, Letter from a Distant Past
10: Booth would go on to produce nine other volumes of his poems in his lifetime, and received many awards and acclaim for his work.
11: Philip Booth chose to lead a quiet life. He rarely went to public book signings or readings, which inhibited his work from becoming famous outside of poetic circles.
12: Booth passed away on July 2nd, 2007, due to complication from Alzheimer's disease.
14: First Lesson
15: "Lie back daughter, let your head be tipped back in the cup of my hand. Gently, and I will hold you. " A father is giving his daughter her first swim lesson. He tell her to tilt her head back in the water. He is asking her to trust him, which she does and always has.
16: "Spread your arms wide, lie out on the stream and look high at the gulls. A dead-man's float is face down."
17: The father tells his daughter she must spread herself wide and always look towards the sky when floating. Although it is possible to float face down, this is a dead-man's float.
18: "You will dive and swim soon enough where this tidewater ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe me, when you tire on the long thrash to your island, lie up, and survive."
19: Soon the child will begin to swim, and she will venture out into the sea, where her father cannot reach her. The swim is difficult at times, but the daughter must remember that when she is overwhelmed, to float upwards. Those that stay positive survive.
20: "As you float now, where I held you and let go, remember when fear cramps your heart what I told you: lie gently and wide to the light-year stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you."
21: As the child drifts away from her father, and she becomes frightened, she must remember the words of her father: lay calmly, look up at the unfathomable wonders of the sky, and allow the vast and overwhelming waters around you to comfort you.
22: The theme of this poem is that as a child, when you grow up and go out on your own you should not become overwhelmed by the world, but instead remember the advice of your parents, and always resist the temptation to look down.
23: The speaker of the poem is the father, who is bestowing his daughter with lessons in swimming, and in life. The tone of the poem is one of paternal care and nurturing. Even when the poem is discussing frightening or overwhelming subject, the reader feels safe because of the soothing voice of the father.
24: First Lesson is written in a free-verse style, which is preferred by many modern poets.
25: Stylistic Devices | Repetition - the words "gently" and "float" are used many times throughout the poem to express the paternal feelings the father feels for his daughter
26: Personification - the speaker is able to convey the danger of fear by personifying it when he advises his daughter on how to act when "fear cramps your heart." | Stylistic Devices
27: Stylistic Devices | Metaphor - the swimming lessons are a metaphor for childhood learning, and the sea is a metaphor for life after childhood.
28: Point of view - by allowing us to see these lessons through the father's eyes, the reader gains the fatherly sentiments that are buried in these lessons | Stylistic Devices
29: Stylistic Devices | Tone - the author uses the loving tone of the poem to add an immediate impact to the thesis, and give the reader an emotional connection.
30: The paternal love that is felt in this poem stands as a stark contrast to the parentless world of NLMG. Both the love of the poem and the isolation of NLMG become more intense when compared to each other. | Connection to Never Let Me Go
31: Bibliography | Dartmouth Seal. Digital image. Dartmouth College. Web. 22 Mar. 2012.