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Eden Rock: Love and Relationships Analysis

Eden Rock was written by Charles Causley. Causley was a British poet and teacher who lived from 1917 to 2003.

His father died when he was seven, so the poem is possibly autobiographical, with a longing to be reunited with both his parents.

Poem Summary

The narrator imagines a scene involving his parents when they were younger. In this scene, his father is 25 years old, while his mother is 23. They enjoy an idyllic picnic on a riverbank and his father skims a stone across the water. The narrator is on the riverbank’s other side, and his parents encourage him to cross the stream to be with them.

The poem’s key message:

The poem contemplates the passing of time, as well as the concept of death. The narrator perhaps longs to be reunited with his parents and have the same bond he had with them as a child.

Language

The setting for the poem is the fictional Eden Rock, an allusion to the Garden of Eden. This hints that his parents may be dead and live in a heavenly afterlife. This is further emphasised by images of light, such as:

“The sky whitens as if lit by three suns”

As well as the heavenly light shown in this quote, the “three suns” could represent the narrator and his parents. This could suggest that he will soon join them in heaven.

Causley’s word choices help to create a peaceful scene. There is the “drifted stream”, his father “spins / A stone along the river”, and his parents “Leisurely” call to him.

The sense of nostalgia is heightened by the detailed descriptions of food and drink items which the narrator would remember from his childhood. There is the “old H.P. Sauce bottle”, which has been filled with milk, a “Thermos”, and “tin cups painted blue”.

Structure

  • The first three stanzas describe his parents enjoying their leisurely, idyllic picnic.
  • There is a change of tone in the fourth stanza when the “sky whitens”. At this moment, his parents look across to the narrator on the other side of the riverbank and beckon him over.
  • The reflective final line, “I had not thought that it would be like this”, is ambiguous (meaning it could be interpreted in different ways). It could be interpreted that he is sad to be dying. On the other hand, he could be excited to reunite with his parents as they were when they were young and happy.

Form

  • It is written in the first person, present tense. This shows how, in his imagination, the narrator is experiencing this moment as if it is actually happening.
  • Many of the lines in the poem have ten syllables. This regularity of rhythm reflects the heavenly, dream-like tempo of the poem.
  • Some lines rhyme (e.g. “screw/ blue”). Mainly, though, Causley uses half-rhymes (e.g. “Rock/ Jack” and “dress/ grass”). This could show that the narrator has not fully reunited with his parents and will only feel complete when he does so.

Themes

ThemeAnalysis
Strong bondsThe narrator’s parents are presented as being very loving towards him. They encourage him to cross over to where they are, saying, “it is not as hard as you may think”. It could be interpreted that they are helping him overcome his fear of dying.

It is also symbolic that the “sky whitens as if lit by three suns”. The “three suns” could symbolise the parents and the narrator, showing how they will always be together.
MemoryIt is suggested that this moment of his parents is from before the narrator was born. Therefore, it is an imagined memory rather than anything he actually experienced. However, some of the details are perhaps from his memories of his parents, or what he has seen in photographs.

There is the detail of his parents’ clothes, such as his mother’s “sprigged dress / Drawn at the waist”. He also mentions “The same three plates”, which could be a reference to the plates they frequently used during his childhood. The tone is nostalgic (longing for the past) as he describes these details.
DeathAlthough not stated explicitly, it is suggested that his parents have died. They are in a heavenly setting linked to the Garden of Eden and full of white light. They are younger, angelic in appearance and reliving a happy time in their lives. If this interpretation is followed, it could be seen that the narrator himself is close to death. His parents may be reassuring him that they will be reunited as “three suns” in death.

Key Quotes to Learn

QuoteWhy is it important?
“They are waiting for me somewhere beyond Eden Rock”The setting of “Eden Rock” has a biblical allusion as it links to the Garden of Eden. This shows that his parents are in a place of paradise.
“The sky whitens as if lit by three suns”This adds to the heavenly image of the setting. The “three suns” could symbolise the three family members being together.
“Leisurely, they beckon to me from the other bank”His parents encourage him to join them. They do this “Leisurely”, showing how peaceful and happy they will be together.

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