The Mother 

The Mother

by Gwendolyn Brooks

Abortions will not let you forget.
You remember the children you got that you did not get,
The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair,
The singers and workers that never handled the air.
You will never neglect or beat
Them, or silence or buy with a sweet.
You will never wind up the sucking-thumb
Or scuttle off ghosts that come.
You will never leave them, controlling your luscious sigh,
Return for a snack of them, with gobbling mother-eye.

I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim killed children.
I have contracted. I have eased
My dim dears at the breasts they could never suck.
I have said, Sweets, if I sinned, if I seized
Your luck
And your lives from your unfinished reach,
If I stole your births and your names,
Your straight baby tears and your games,
Your stilted or lovely loves, your tumults, your marriages, aches, and your deaths,
If I poisoned the beginnings of your breaths,
Believe that even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate.
Though why should I whine,
Whine that the crime was other than mine?—
Since anyhow you are dead.
Or rather, or instead,
You were never made.
But that too, I am afraid,
Is faulty: oh, what shall I say, how is the truth to be said?
You were born, you had body, you died.
It is just that you never giggled or planned or cried.

Believe me, I loved you all.
Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you
All.

Summary of The Mother

  • Popularity of The Mother: This poem was written by Gwendolyn Brooks, an American poet, author, and teacher. ‘The Mother’ is a thought-provoking piece on anti-abortion. The poem speaks about the woes of aborted pregnancies. It also illustrates how abortions leave a psychological and emotional toll on mothers who suffer from remorse and guilt.
  • “The Mother” As Representative of Sorrow: This poem is an expression of sorrow. The poet reflects upon the sufferings and trauma of mothers after abortions. The poem begins when the speaker addresses the aborted pregnancies as children. She describes her relationship with those aborted children, imagining that she will never beat them, bribe them with candy or silence them. She refers to them as killed children and blames herself for not letting them enjoy the glories of life. To her, through this deadly action, she has stolen their identity, breaths, and every opportunity they could have availed in the world. She silently expresses that women have not deliberately killed them. She directly addresses her unborn children and tells them that she love them: the mother’s emotions and matchless love for her aborted children.
  • Major Themes in “The Mother”: Abortion, sorrow, and regret are the major themes underlined in this poem. The poem presents the sentiments of a mother upon losing her children. Throughout the poem, she imagines how her decision had deprived her unborn children of the worldly bliss. She lists the joys and activities they had missed and makes herself accountable for not letting them taste these opportunities. It is through her confession. She reflects how the memory of those aborted children haunts her. The speaker suggests that we should change our attitude toward this heinous crime and try to fulfill our responsibilities of becoming parents.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “The Mother”

Literary devices are modes that represent writers’ ideas, feelings, and emotions. It is through these devices that the writers make their words appealing to the readers. Gwendolyn Brooks, too, has used some literary devices in this poem to make it appealing. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been listed below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /i/ in “with a little or with no hair”.
  2. Anaphora: It refers to the repetition of a word or expression in the first part of some verses. For example, “Believe me” is repeated in the last stanza of the poem to emphasize the point.

Believe me, I loved you all.
Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you
All.”

  1. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. For example, the sound of /n/ in “You will never neglect or beat”.
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /d/ in “you had body, you died.
  3. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it continues in the next line. For example,

“You will never neglect or beat
Them, or silence or buy with a sweet.

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair”, “Your stilted or lovely loves, your tumults, your marriages, aches, and your deaths” and “It is just that you never giggled or planned or cried.”
  2. Rhetorical Question: Rhetorical question is a question that is not asked in order to receive an answer; it is just posed to make the point clear and emphasize on valid points. For example, “Is faulty: oh, what shall I say, how is the truth to be said?” and “Whine that the crime was other than mine?”

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “The Mother”

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. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. The poet has used end rhyme such as; “died/cried”, “suck/luck”, “hair/air” and “beat/sweet.”
  2. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABAB rhyme scheme, and this pattern continues to the end.
  3. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are three stanzas in this poem, each having a different number of verses.
  4. Tercet: A tercet is a three-lined stanza borrowed from Biblical Hebrew poetry. Here, the last stanza is tercet. For example,

“Believe me, I loved you all.
Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you
All.”

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are useful when describing the unbound love of a mother for her children.

“Believe me, I loved you all.
Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you
All.”