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Study Questions

The Widow's Lament in Springtime Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
  1. Why do you think this poem takes place in spring? Would it work for Williams to write about a different season instead?
  2. Do you think the persona for this poem is convincing or is it one-dimensional? And we have to ask, is there something a little sexist about a male poet who depicts a widow who can think only of sorrow and death after losing her husband?
  3. What is the relationship between the natural world and the speaker's grief. Is it a reflection of her sorrow? A contrast to it?
  4. We know this is a poem (yay for us!) but who do you think the audience is for our speaker? Or, let's put it this way: do you think this is how she would explain herself to others, or do you think this is the way she thinks about her life in her private thoughts? Is there a difference between the two?
  5. Why is our speaker so reserved? Why doesn't she just say how she feels? Where's all the wailing and crying that widows are supposed to do?
  6. What do you make of the son? Why bother bringing him into the poem at all? What do you think he means to the widow?
  7. What's the difference between the white flowers in the widow's yard and the white flowers near the woods? Why does she want to visit the ones near the woods? What's wrong with the ones in her own backyard?
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