Do you believe Gwendolyn Brooks in her poem "the mother" when she tells her unborn child that she loves them? How can this be possible?

In "the mother," Gwendolyn Brooks writes in the voice of a woman who has had multiple abortions and claims to have loved all her "dim killed children." Whether you believe the speaker will depend on what you think about love, what it is based on, and whether a mother's love is of a special, self-sacrificing kind.

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Writers construct literary personalities, which can be more or less obvious. When Edgar Allan Poe adopts the persona of a madman to write a short story, no reader thinks he expressing his own thoughts and feelings. However, when Poe writes a love poem, also in the first person, the literary personality is still there but is harder to separate from the author.

Gwendolyn Brooks's poem, "the mother," is written in the first person, but it is a literary construction, and any information we happen to have about the poet is irrelevant. Whether you believe the speaker or not depends entirely on how powerful and convincing you find the poem. The speaker has had multiple abortions and spends much of the poem reflecting on the human experiences the "dim killed children" have missed. The second stanza in particular is full of self-reproach. She "stole" her children's lives and "poisoned" their entry to the world. The poem ends with the lines:

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

Whether you are convinced by this will depend on your idea of love. The love of a mother for her children is often regarded as being of a special kind, perhaps because it often involves self-sacrifice. Here, the mother has sacrificed her children rather than herself, and has to apologize to them. However, love does not always entail self-sacrifice. It may be exceptionally selfish. Stalkers, even murderers, sometimes claim to love their victims. You might compare this poem with Browning's "Porphyria's Lover," which contains such a case.

George Bernard Shaw remarks in Major Barbara that romantic love is a great exaggeration of the difference between on person and another. However, a mother's love is not generally though to be based on the qualities of the baby, which have not developed when the maternal bond is formed, but something more mysterious and elemental. You should also consider how and when you think this love develops. Finally, if the mother's expression of love is not sincere, what is she doing in this poem? Is she attempting to justify her actions, or perhaps to convince the reader or herself of her love?

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