The first stanza of the poem begins with the introduction to the mother and her plight. The first line introduces plainly the topic of the poem. Abortion, although discussed and debated daily, is considered to be a very personal and often private experience in one's life. The second line confirms that this is a personal account of the "Mother. " The personification gives one more reason to feel empathy for the woman who is telling her story via the poem. Titling the work mother is an interesting tactic, as the topic of the poem is abortion.
Perhaps this was done in order to create a tension and sadness between the mother and the abortions she is speaking of. There is also a great use of the word "you. " Brooks is writing to those who have had abortions or will have abortions and the things they must deal with. From this point Brooks writes of the joys and struggles of motherhood that the woman will never experience. For example "You will never neglect or beat them, or silence or buy with a sweet" (Brooks 6,7).
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In this segment Brooks uses enjambment to push the idea that there is no longer a "them. The action of thumb sucking, which most children experience, is referenced in a longing way. The mother feels sadness knowing she will never correct the action. In the line, " The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair, The singers and workers that never handled the air. " Brooks gives a strong image of the pre-baby form versus the adult form the child would have later in life. This is an interesting tactic, as it contrasts an inhuman and human form. Often fetuses are not referred to as "living" beings, and Brooks is bringing light to that conversation.
The first stanza references so many actions that many mothers find mundane, but the mother who has never experienced them, treats them as treasured and severely missed moments. The second stanza focuses on the pain and loss of the woman. Brooks writes, "I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim killed children. " This is the first line to break the rhyme scheme within the poem. The mother character feels haunted by the silent cries of the multiple abortions she has had. Once again Brooks writes of the acts she will never witness, such as marriages, aches, and first breaths.
From the perspective of mother, the reader witnesses the ache of regret. In the lines, I have said, Sweets, if I sinned, if I seized Your luck" there is an interesting idea planted. The word "If" implies a question in the mother. Perhaps the mother made her decision but society has made her feel the guilt? Although this idea seems largely discounted in the following stanza. In line "Believe that even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate. " We are given a taste of the state of mind the mother possessed when she had her abortion.
What is being said is that although abortion was the result, it was done with best intentions. The reader is left to infer that perhaps the woman could not have provided, or might have been cast out, or any possibility that would have abortion be the prevailing answer. The following lines, "Though why should I whine, Whine that the crime was other than mine? --" tell us that the woman equates her behavior with murder. This poem does not read specifically pro-life or pro-choice, rather, it reads as sympathetic towards the hard decisions that the mother has made and her reflections on whether it was the best decision for her.
Another example of the mother's reflection is found within lines 28-31. Brooks writes, "Since anyhow you are dead. Or rather, or instead, You were never made. " In these lines the reader is confronted with the question, "When does life begin? " The mother in the poem seems to struggle with this idea. She attaches human feelings and behavior to the unborn, but in the poem often questions their viability. In the last stanza, Brooks leaves us with the sobering lines, "Believe me, I loved you all. Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you, All.
These lines clear up any confusion as to what the mother feels towards the unborn fetuses. Although she never knew them, and it was her decision not to have them, she still feels the emotional attachment that any mother might. These lines answer the question as to why the woman is referred to as mother. THe woman possesses the maternal sense of unconditional love that she has felt for the fetuses, referred and her longing to be with them. There is a strong power in the use of ending on the word, "All. " Although the mother has had multiple abortions, she equates it with the same longing and regret as just one.
Remember. This is just a sample.
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