This poem is relatively easy to understand. Here is a synopsis of the poem
The Woman Speaks to the Man who has employed Her Son by Lorna Goodison
In this poem, a mother expresses her deep affection for her son. She reflects on the unfortunate circumstances of her life as a single parent. She is now concerned about the welfare of her son.
This woman is seen as one, whose deep devotion and dedication to her son make her transcend her difficulties. Her responsibility to her son takes priority. But what shatters her now, is the fact that her son is employed by someone who appears to be engaged in shady activities. To her, the gun he carries is a symbol of destructiveness and criminal activities.
The conversational style of the poem makes the reader empathize with the thoughts and feelings of the mother. The reader discerns in the mother, fortitude, resilience and spiritual strength which inform her actions.
Did you identify the themes and literary devices in this poem? What are they?
Answer these Questions
1. What is the theme of the poem?
2. The mood of the poem is one of
(a) disgust and anger
(b) optimism and hope
(c) sadness and despair
3. Which of these words describe the tone of the poem?
formal, conversational, angry, serious?
4. What do the lines “a metallic tide,
rising in her mouth each morning”
suggest about the mother?
5. “He treated all his children
With equal and unbiased indifference.”
What do the above lines suggest about the father?
6. Why do you think that the mother is upset about the job her son has taken? 7. What do the “black cloth” and “veiled hat” symbolize? 8. Select the line which expresses the mother’s helplessness. 9. Why does she allude to the “thief on the left side of the cross”? 10. How do you feel as you read the poem?