Sunday, March 30, 2008

#200 "Woman Work"

Analysis of Speaker/Rhyme/Meter:

Speaker: The speaker of this poem is a housewife/mother with a long list of responsibilities that she must tend to "I've got the children to tend/ The clothes to mend/ The floor to mop/ The food to shop..." (lines 1-4). She is becoming exhausted with all the work she must do, and wishes she could get a break from it all. "'Til I can rest again" (22) and "Let me rest tonight" (26).
Rhyme: The first stanza of the poem is fourteen lines long and unlike the four stanzas following it, it has a rhyme scheme of AABBCCDD, etc. By rhyming the stanza that lists the speaker's duties as a mother and housewife in this pattern and using a different pattern for the last four stanzas, which talk about her desire to escape from it all and rest, the poem suggests very obvious, predictable structure and order in the speaker's everyday life, contrary to the resting period that she wishes to have. The second, fourth, and fifth stanzas of the poem follow the rhyme scheme of ABCB, while the third stanza has no rhyming pattern. The common element of the second fourth and fifth stanzas is that they describe the gentle qualities of nature, "Fall softly, dewdrops" (17), "Fall gently, snowflakes" (23), "Sun, rain, curving sky" (27), a large contrast to the harsh and fast-paced nature of her daily life at home. The third stanza however, describes nature in a much harsher way than these other stanzas "Storm, blow me from here/With your fiercest wind" (19-20). This stanza, although it describes a harshness and a state of unrest, expresses the speaker's desire to escape from her daily routine in any way she can, even if it means "being taken away by storm."
Meter: The meter of this poem goes along with the rhyme scheme. The number of lines in each stanza reflects the speaker's different attitudes throughout the poem. In the first and longest stanza of the poem, there are seven pairs of rhyming lines, fourteen lines total. The length of this stanza suggests a very tiring, long work day as a housewife and mother for the speaker. The last four stanzas, on the contrary, are only four lines long each. These four stanzas all describe the poet's desire to get away from her busy routine, and this is expressed by making them much shorter and more manageable in contrast to the first stanza. Even the third stanza, which talks about fierceness of a storm, is shorter and easier than her daily life as one can visualize from the first stanza.
Analysis of 2 Literary Devices:
Personification- The speaker of this poem personifies the elements of nature such as a storm "Storm, blow me from here/ With your fiercest wind" (19-20), "Fall softly, dewdrops/ And cool my brow again" (17-18), "Cover me with white/ Cold icy kisses and/Let me rest tonight" (24-26). By giving these elements of nature the importance of being as humans, the speaker emphasizes her desire to be "rescued" by them from her daily life of work and exhaustion. "Star shine, moon glow/ You're all that I can call my own" (29-30). By speaking to the stars and the moon as if they are human, she expresses her gratitude that they are there for her unconditionally, that they are "all she can call her own."
Repetition- The two key words that are repeated in this poem are "Again" (18 and 22) and "Rest" (22 and 26). By repeating the word "again," both times using it to describe relief from the speaker's strenuous daily life, this implies that at one time in her life, she was not faced with this long list of responsibilities, and she longs to return to these days when life was less stressful and she could have the time to rest. The repetition of "rest," in the poem obviously implies the overall meaning of the poem, which is the speaker's desire to break away from her routine.
Reflection:
I found the most effective element of the poem to be the transition from literal, tangible ideas when the speaker is plainly describing her everyday busy life, to the descriptions of nature as figures to express her desires of escape and rest. I liked how the poet didn't make the poem more complex and difficult to interpret than it needed to be, and this factor itself contributed to the overall meaning of the poem, which is the speaker's longing to rest from her difficult tasks as a mother and housewife. The imagery of nature also gave the poem an effective, relaxing mood to it in the last four stanzas, and I found this to make the poem more enjoyable to read.

1 comment:

tennis said...

I also thought that the word 'rest' meant that the woman wanted to leave her life behind, but I also thought that it could mean that she wanted to die. I also liked how the meaning was fairly straight foward and there weren't really any hidden meanings to certain things! But over-all I think we got the same things out of this poem!