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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 Sadness

It's not exactly a surprise that a poem that calls itself a "Lament" and has "Sorrow" as its first word deals with sadness. The force of our speaker's sadness, the ways it acts on her, is what "The Widow's Lament in Springtime" is all about: the cold weight of sorrow, the way it transforms joy into distance, and how it isolates the speaker. Need we say more? Nah, we'll stop there. You'll just have to read it to find out.

Questions About Sadness

  1. What in the poem, besides the fact that it is called a lament and starts with the word sorrow, tells us that our speaker is sad? What word choices tell you that? What about her imagery?
  2. How are the different types of flowers in the poem related to sadness? What do those white ones tell us about our speaker? And what about those yellow and red ones (14-15)?
  3. Why does our speaker use descriptions of her yard to communicate her feelings? How does she use these descriptions to convey her sorrow?
  4. Is this speaker sad only because she has lost her husband? Or is there something else contributing to her sorrow?

Chew on This

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

This speaker is not just sad about her husband. She is also totally bummed that she has lost her connection to the natural world.

The speaker's sorrow comes from the fact that the world around her isn't grieving with her. She's all the sadder because everything else is in bloom.

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