Study Guide

the mother Stanza 3

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Stanza 3

Lines 31-33

Believe me, I loved you all.
Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you

  • Sniff, sniff. Are we the only ones tearing up over here? The mother seems to give up her quest to put language to the experience of her never-born children. Instead, she addresses them directly. She tells them that she knew them faintly (which reminds us of her earlier description of them as "dim") and that she loved them all.
  • She loved them so much that she repeats the word "love" three times in these final lines. 
  • And that final line—that lonely "all"—suggests two different things. First, she loved all of her never-born children, but also, she loved everything about them—their bodies, souls, their potential life.
  • The poem ends on this horribly sad note, with love as its only resolution. It doesn't come out for, or against, abortion, but it does allow a woman who has had an abortion to mourn for her children that never existed. 
  • Brooks is navigating a tricky political space here. She's asking us to empathize with a woman who has terminated pregnancies by choice. She's asking us to give this woman the right to mourn for her non-existent children without coming out as anti-abortion. She's asking us to hold conflicting ideas in our minds: that the speaker is mother without children, and that a woman can have an abortion and still mourn her loss. 
  • Poetry: pretty powerful and thought-provoking stuff, dontcha think?

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