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The Widow's Lament in Springtime

The Widow's Lament in Springtime


by William Carlos Williams

Analysis: Form and Meter

Free Verse

Go ahead. We dare you to spot a rhyme. How about meter – is there any of that?

Nope. There's none of that fancy stuff here. "The Widow's Lament in Springtime" is free verse at its freest. We can easily imagine these lines rolling straight off the tongue of our sad neighborhood widow. Its rhythms are decidedly colloquial – they mimic the way a person would speak instead of following a fixed meter.

Still, there is one formal aspect that's worth a look: those short little lines. They give the poem a chopped, stunted look, don't you think? Our speaker breaks off mid-sentence on just about every line. When a poet breaks a line mid-sentence, we call this enjambment, and in this poem that quality mimics the speaker's devastated inner world. It's almost as if she can never carry a thought through to its end. We readers have to hover for a brief moment before jumping to the next line to find out just what she's saying. And, just like our speaker, these enjambments bring a lot of attention to the empty space around them and to what's not being said. (Feel free to read more about these lines in the "Sound Check" and "Calling Card" sections.)

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