ENGL289P: Why Poetry Matters
Gwendolyn Brooks’ “The Mother” is a poem depicting the flow of heartache stemming from the regret of abortion. The speaker reflects on this emotional situation that has lived with her, haunting her thoughts even after the procedure. The conflict between the title of the poem and its content immediately confuses the reader, adding to the overall conflict between maternity and grief. The poem is entitled “The Mother”, which connotes what the reader would associate with mothers: children, nurturing, and happiness. But, the first lines of the poem let the reader know that the speaker is saddened, tormented by the voluntary loss of her children. Throughout the poem, the speaker progressively becomes more distressed as she reflects on the experiences of growth that she not only won’t get to experience, but what she has robbed her unborn children of. The recurring image of children is coupled with the termination of their existence. Gwendolyn Brooks uses paradox to overflow the reader with the anguish that stems from terminating a child.
Within the first stanza of the poem, the reader is taken away from the conventional way children are viewed. The work starts off by saying “Abortions will not let you forget/You remember the children you got that you did not get” (1-2). Abortion is personified, described as having a hold on the speaker. Even if the speaker wanted to forget, abortions would not let her. This shows the severity of the procedure, to which the speaker may not have initially been aware of. By starting the poem off that way, the reader is taken into the haunted mind of someone who has to live with killing their child. Brooks uses paradox in the next line, saying “You remember the children you got that you did not get” (2). She speaker remembers not only the children, but the fact that she took their lives before they...
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