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The Widow's Lament in Springtime

The Widow's Lament in Springtime


by William Carlos Williams

The Widow's Lament in Springtime Theme of Isolation

Even though her son is still around, the widow in "The Widow's Lament in Springtime" is all alone. She has lost her husband of thirty-five years. And with that, her strong connection to the natural world seems to have disappeared, too. Anything and everything that once brought her joy has up and left her. Dear widow, Shmoop recommends belting out a little Eric Carmen to ease the pain.

Questions About Isolation

  1. Our speaker tells us that a "cold fire / […] closes round" her (5-6). Why does she use the word "fire" if it's a cold sensation? What is the effect of using the word "closes"? Does this have anything to do with isolation (clearly we think so)?
  2. Lines 7 and 8 are our speaker's only explicit mention of her husband. What's that all about? Do you think our speaker might seem a little less isolated if she talked about her man a bit more?
  3. What about her son? Why does his presence not seem to have any impact on her isolation? Why aren't they consoling each other? Or are they?
  4. What do you make of the ending? Do you think she's seeking a solution for her isolation? Or is the speaker trying to isolate herself even more by falling into those flowers?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Our speaker's unwillingness to face the loss of her husband (as seen in her avoidance of the issue in the poem) has forced her into isolation from the world.

The natural world isolates our speaker because she now views it in a different way than anyone else views it.

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