Mother of the Groom

Mother of the Groom

by Seamus Heaney

What she remembers
Is his glistening back
In the bath, his small boots
In the ring of boots at her feet.

Hands in her voided lap,
She hears a daughter welcomed.
It’s as if he kicked when lifted
And slipped her soapy hold.

Once soap would ease off
The wedding ring
That’s bedded forever now
In her clapping hand.

Summary of Mother of the Groom

  • Popularity of “Mother of the Groom”: Mother of the Groom by Seamus Heaney, a famous poet, playwright, and translator, is a compassionate poem. The poem recollects the precious feelings of a mother on the day of her son’s wedding. It illustrates how a mother perceives her son’s life-changing moments. Its popularity, however, lies in the fact that it exhibits the universal thematic strand of parental love.
  • “Mother of the Groom” As a Reflection of Parental Love: This poem is about the heartfelt feelings and thoughts of a mother whose son is going to start a new chapter of his life. It begins where the mother sheds light on his childhood memories; she remembers his small shining back in the bath and his small boots. When his son began to walk, his small boots appeared in the ring of boots at her feet. The hands that used to hold that little boy, are now in her empty lap. Now, her son is getting married; the woman announces the arrival of a new lady in her son’s life. Also, she states that she knew one day her tiny son would grow up and would take a free flight. To her surprise, that moment has arrived when he is going to accept new domesticity. Although the son is going to share his love with another lady, yet the wedding ring in the lady’s clapping hands stands for her loyalty and commitment toward her family.
  • Major Themes in “Mother of the Groom”: Marriage, parental love, and memories are the major themes of the poem. This poem is an illustration of a mother’s infinite love for her son. On his gala day, she recalls how she used to look after her son. The mother’s feelings in this poem are complex; she seems confused, sad, and scared at the same time. Although she welcomes the new lady with clapping hands, yet the way she sheds light on the childhood memories of her son exhibits her fears. She fears that her son will be apart from her and this fear stops her from giving a warm welcome to the marriage. She wonders how quickly time passes, leaving the joyous and bright memories behind.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Mother of the Groom”

literary devices allow the writers to express their thoughts in an impressive way. Seamus Heaney has used some literary devices in this poem to express his ideas in a better way as given below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /e/ in “She hears a daughter welcomed” and the sound of /o/ in “Once soap would ease off.”
  2. Anaphora: It refers to the repetition of a word or expression in the first part of some verses. Seamus Heaney has repeated the word “in the” in the first stanza of the poem to emphasize the point such as;

“In the bath, his small boots
In the ring of boots at her feet.”

  1. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /r/ in “She hears a daughter welcomed” and the sound of /n/ in “In her clapping hand.”
  2. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example;

“Once soap would ease off
The wedding ring
That’s bedded forever now
In her clapping hand.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Seamus Heaney has used imagery in this poem such as “In the ring of boots at her feet”, “It’s as if he kicked when lifted” and “She hears a daughter welcomed.
  2. Irony: Irony is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning of the words. The writer has used this device in the second stanza of the poem to express the sadness of the mother such as;

“Hands in her voided lap,
She hears a daughter welcomed.”

  1. Simile: It is a device Used to compare something with something else to make the meanings clear to the readers. Seamus has used this device in the second stanza of the poem such as “She hears a daughter welcomed / it’s as if he kicked when lifted.”
  2. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from literal meanings. Here “ring in her clapping hands” stands for the lady’s commitment and loyalty toward her family.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Mother of the Groom”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Free Verse: Free verse is a type of poetry that does not contain patterns of rhyme or meter. This is a free-verse poem with no strict rhyme or meter.
  2. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza borrowed from Persian poetry. Here each stanza is quatrain as the first one or the second one such as;

“What she remembers
Is his glistening back
In the bath, his small boots
In the ring of boots at her feet.”

  1. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are three stanzas in this poem with each comprising four lines.

Quotes to be Used

These lines are useful while talking about the infinite love of the parents for their children.

What she remembers
Is his glistening back
In the bath, his small boots
In the ring of boots at her feet.”

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