The Widows Lament in Springtime

The Widows Lament in Springtime

By William Carlos Williams

Sorrow is my own yard
where the new grass
flames as it has flamed
often before but not
with the cold fire
that closes round me this year.
Thirty-five years
I lived with my husband.
The plumtree is white today
with masses of flowers.
Masses of flowers
load the cherry branches
and color some bushes
yellow and some red
but the grief in my heart
is stronger than they
for though they were my joy
formerly, today I notice them
and turn away forgetting.
Today my son told me
that in the meadows,
at the edge of the heavy woods
in the distance, he saw
trees of white flowers.
I feel that I would like
to go there
and fall into those flowers
and sink into the marsh near them.

Summary of The Widows Lament in Springtime

  • Popularity of “The Widows Lament in Springtime”: Written by William Carlos Williams, an American poet, writer, and physician, the poem “The Widows Lament in Springtime” first appeared in 1921. The collection in which this poem occurred was titled Sour Grapes. The poem presents the boundless grief of a widow who does not see any sense in living anymore. The popularity of the poem lies in the presentation of this universal grief from a personal point of view.
  • “The Widows Lament in Springtime” As a Representative of a Personal Grief: The poet presents a speaker who is a widow and has recently lost her husband without citing the reason for the death. She is of the view that the grief has engulfed her in its fold in such a way that it has become her “yard.” She presents this grief in metaphorical terms. She widens the scope of this metaphor, saying it has grass with flames and cold fire that closes on her at this time of the year.
    She also states that she has lived with her husband for twenty-five years, and the grief’s enormity could be gauged from the situation in which she finds herself now looking at the flowers blossoming on the cherry branches to show that her grief is stronger than the cherry trees now living in the autumn as she has now forgotten that very tree which used to count on her for joy. When her son tells her about the white flowers at the end of the meadows, she wishes to die with those flowers. This death wish completes her desire to stay in the darkness of mourning.
  • Major Themes in “The Widows Lament in Springtime”: Personal grief, depression, and desire for death are three major themes of this poem “The Widows Lament in Springtime.” Although the title suggests that she is going to lament the death of her husband in the season of spring, it is unclear in which season her husband left her. She is now clearly in deep depression as she sees grief near her, like her yard, and she has to lament willy-nilly, for her cherry tree reminds her husband. That is why when her son tells her about the white flowers with the intention that she might be happy, she rather desires death by sinking into the marsh where the flowers are blossoming. This death wish shows her personal grief that even her son could gauge the depth of her depression. He suggests his mother to visit and see the white flowers in the meadows knowing little that she desires to die in the marsh near those meadows.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in The Widows Lament in Springtime

William Carlos Williams uses various literary devices to enhance the intended impact of his poem. Some of the major literary devices he uses in this poem are as follows.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /a/ in “flames as it has flamed” and the sound of /o/ in “Sorrow is my own yard.”
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /t / in “The plumtree is white today” and the sound of /s/ in “in the distance, he saw.”
  3. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. William Carlos Williams used imagery in this poem such as “at the edge of the heavy woods”, “trees of white flowers” and “and fall into those flowers.”
  4. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects that are different in nature. The poet used different metaphors such as the metaphor of the yard for her grief and flowers have been compared to masses.
  5. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The poem shows symbols, such as the yard, tree, flowers, and bushes to show how grief changes the impression of everything.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in The Widows Lament in Springtime

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

  1. Diction: It means the type of language. The poem shows pithy and concise diction.
  2. Free Verse: It means to use verses without any pattern of meter or rhyme. This poem shows the use of free verse.
  3. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. This single-stanza poem has total 28 short and long verses.
  4. Tone: It means the voice of the text. The poem shows a sorrowful, sad, and lamenting tone.

Quotes to be Used

The following lines are useful to quote about the people having a death wish.

I feel that I would like
to go there
and fall into those flowers
and sink into the marsh near them.