Thesis: Williams contrasts a woman’s sadness over the loss of her husband with the beautiful new scenery of springtime in order to communicate the full extent of the woman’s sorrow.
Meaning and Language
Speaker: Woman who is a widowPoint of view: First personInternal monologue: Inner thoughtsMood: Sorrowful”Lament” (title)”Sorrow is my own yard” (1)Diction:”lament” and “springtime”: end vs. beginning (title)”flames,” “flamed,” and “cold fire”: flame of love (3, 5)Only family members mention are “husband” and “son”: patriarchy (8, 20)Repetition: “white” repeated 2x: surrender (9, 24)Contrasts with “yellow” and “red” (14)”masses of flowers” repeated 2x: “flowers” repeated 4x: funeral mass/service (10-11)”today” repeated 2x: focus is on the present rather than past”and fall into”, “and sink into” (incremental repetition): unmistakable meaning (27-28)
Meaning and Language
Purpose/Effect:Williams wants the reader to understand the extent of a widow’s inner sorrow, and first person point of view is most effective for communicating her internal monologue. Williams repeats important words to emphasize the gravity of the death and to help the reader understand that a funeral has occurred.
Imagery and symbol
Springtime imagery throughout the poem:-yard/grass-plumtree/flowers-cherry tree branches/blossoms-bushes-meadows-trees of white flowersColor imagery throughout the poem:”color some bushes/yellow and some red” (13-14)Symbolism: “the plumtree is white today” (9)”trees of white flowers” (24)
Imagery and symbol
Purpose/Effect:These images evoke spring time and help set up the contrast between the beautiful scenery and the widow’s sorrow.The colors, yellow and red, fit with the springtime motif, but the color white is presented opposite them to symbolize the widow’s surrender.
Williams juxtaposes negative feelings and positive images to emphasize the sorrowful mood.His style is stream of consciousness to communicate the widow’s honest thoughts just as they occur to her, rather than through a filter.
Enjambment throughout the poem: -“Thirtyfive years/I lived with my husband” (7-8)Long time-“formerly, today I notice them” (18)Abrupt change
Williams uses enjambment extensively to portray the widow’s free-flowing expression, stream-of-consciousness thought, and fragmented ideas.
Williams’ structure reinforces the depth and complexity of the woman’s grief.
Syntax: Long sentence with complicated syntax (11-19)Syllables:Most lines have 4-8 syllables; however, two lines are different:One line has 9 syllables:”formerly, today I notice them”: emphasizes change (18)Line 18 has a different number of syllables to show how the widow’s perspective has changed from the past to today.One line has 3 syllables:”to go there”: emphasizes death (26)Line 26 has a different number of syllables to show that the widow wants to physically “go” to her death.Incremental repetition:”and fall into”, “and sink into” (27-28)
The long, complex sentence presents the essence of the poem and describes the woman’s transition.The incremental repetition emphasizes the woman’s intentions and makes her meaning unmistakable: she intends to kill herself.
Rhythm:Similar line lengths (most lines have 4-8 syllables)End-rhyme:”year” and “years” (6, 7)”flowers” (10, 11, 24, 27)”branches” and “bushes” (12, 13)
Purpose of Sound
Williams’ consistent rhythm coincides with the stream-of-consciousness style of the poem.Each rhyme emphasizes concepts essential to the meaning of the poem: time of year, duration of the relationship, flowers (spring vs. funeral), and springtime imagery.
Use of imagery and enjambmentPoems with similar ideas:”Spring and All””A Woman in Front of a Bank””The Bitter World of Spring”Historical context: Published in third collection of poetry, Sour Grapes (1921)Shortly after WWI
Based on the way williams ends the poem, it is apparent that the widow believes her life is over, there will be no new beginning for her, and she wishes for death.