What is the central theme of Alice Moore Dunbar Nelson's two poems  "I Sit and Sew" and "April is on the Way"?

The central theme of both of these two poems is that women are stronger than men believe they are. Men believe women are not strong because they have not fought in wars, but they are the ones wasting fields with death. Women will be able to burst forth like flowers after the war is over, proving their strength and resilience.

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These two poems address the irony of society’s perception of femininity as fragile and weak.

In both poems, women are presented as delicate and decorative: in “I Sit and Sew” the speaker’s sewing—a traditionally feminine task—is “a useless task” (line 1). In “April Is on the Way” the woman seen by the speaker has fingertips like “pale and yellow flowers” (line 36) and is compared to a little daffodil. The speaker in “I Sit and Sew” feels stifled and futile because she “must sit and sew” (lines 7 and 14) but dreams “the panoply of war.” (line 3) The speaker in “April Is on the Way” is similarly stifled but by the winter and the ice, and the other woman in the poem is hurt by her “slain mate” who was “cruel to her”, as well as the more visceral dangers present during the American Civil War.

The irony comes from the comparison of these explicitly feminizing descriptions of women to the contrasting description of men, violence, and war. The...

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