Please answer the following questions about "The Widow's Lament in Springtime":(Regarding "The Widow's Lament in Springtime" by William Carlos Williams:) 1. Why is springtime so poignant a time for...

Please answer the following questions about "The Widow's Lament in Springtime":

(Regarding "The Widow's Lament in Springtime" by William Carlos Williams:)

1. Why is springtime so poignant a time for this lament?
2. What has been the speaker’s previous experience at this time of year?

Asked on by ebi

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In this poem, a widow is talking about her feelings in this first spring after her husband has died.  The poem expresses her sadness at losing him.

In previous springs (this is number 2) she has loved spring.  She has loved the colors of the flowers on the trees and bushes.

But now (this is number 1) this all makes her sad.  It makes her sad (is poignant) because spring is a beautiful time and it is the time of year associated with new life.  So it is poignant to think about her husband who is dead during this beautiful time of new life.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In "The Widow's Lament in Springtime" by William Carlos Williams, the simplicity of the language also adds poignancy, for the widow is inarticulate in her grief:

Sorrow is my own yard/Where the new grass/ flames as it has flamed/ often before but not/with the cold fire/that closes around me this year/Thirty-five years/I lived with my husband.

The stark, simple statement "Thirty-five years/I lived with my husband," connotes the absolute emptiness that she now feels; the fire/emotion that she once felt in viewing Springtime is now a "cold fire."  Williams's use of "white" indicates the perspective of the sorrowful widow, as well.  For, while many would view the plumtree "white with masses of flowers" as a sign of burgeoning Spring and new life, the widow's personal narrative that precedes the factual descriptions leads to the perception of the white flowers as the ultimate sorrow of death:  white, the absence of color represents nothingness.  The widow is smothered by this whiteness:

Today my son told me/ that...he saw trees of white flowers/I feel I would like/ to go there/and fall into those flowers/and sink into the marsh near them. 

In this poem oppositions fuse: white has the appeal of nothingness and the color of joy turns into the color of mourning. 

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mkcapen1's profile pic

mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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1- Spring time is poignant because it is a time of birth and new life not death, but the widow is experiencing grief not the joy of spring.


2-Spring time was formerly one of joy and happiness as she experienced the season of renewal.


3-The speaker’s son tells the speaker that he saw trees flowering with white flowers at the edge of the woods. 


4- He wants his mother to realize that there is life beyond her former existence with his father.


5- The yard in the poem is the speaker’s present life with her husband and the meadow symbolizes a new life separate from her previous experiences with her husband.


6- The widow desires to stop feeling so much internal pain from her grief so that she can again enjoy life.  She wants to stop hurting.


7-The two lines 2-3 represent the strength of her internal conflict and are vivid and the flatness in lines 13 and 14 reflect that she is experiencing no joy in the flowers and beauty of the cherry blossom.


8-The use of the word “masses” creates a visual of the beauty and plentitude of the flowering cherry blossoms that create an exquisite beauty that would normally fill one’s heart with joy.  They are a symbol of abundance of new life which surrounds her.  She is also feeling overwhelmed by her own grief and the word “masses” creates this as the second emotion.

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