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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 Man and the Natural World

We have to ask: how come this widow spends all her time talking about grass and trees and flowers? Shouldn't she be talking about her dearly departed darling? Well, as it turns out, "The Widow's Lament in Springtime" is all about our speaker's husband's death. It's just that her grief is in disguise. In this poem, we can tell exactly how much pain this woman is in, based on her descriptions of the natural world around her. How she relates to nature tells us how she is coping with her husband's passing. And she's not coping well.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. What is the relationship between the natural world and our speaker's sorrow? What, in the poem, helps you define this relationship? Is the natural world just a way to give images to our speaker's emotions or is there more to it?
  2. What's her beef with all these flowers? What is it about flowers in particular that draws her attention, do you think? And while we're at it, what's the difference between the white flowers on the plum tree in her yard, which she doesn't seem to like much, and the trees of white flowers that she's drawn to at the end?
  3. What is the effect of setting this poem in the springtime?

Chew on This

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

Our speaker is just projecting her inner emotions on the outside world. She resents nature, because nature keeps on going while her husband has died.

Nature is the solution to this woman's sorrow, not the cause of it. While she resents nature for continuing to bloom while she withers away in grief, if she would only get outside and "fall into those flowers," she might be happy again.

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