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Gwendolyn Brooks

Essay by   •  February 28, 2011  •  Book/Movie Report  •  1,017 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,041 Views

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"What is poetry good for?" A challenging academic environment must include science, math, and history in order to fully be complete in educating our society. Many wonder about the importance of poetry included with these other fields of study and if it is really necessary. Obviously math, science, etc. is crucial to understanding the facts and logics that explain our world around us. However, understanding all of these aspects without trying to understand the emotions and feelings that surround life around us seems to diminish why we strive to learn in the first place. Poetry achieves this level of understanding by allowing us to really experience life through the emotions and experiences of others.

In her poem, "The Mother," Gwendolyn Brooks examines the sorrow associated with abortion. The poem is a journey of rationalization for one woman who attempts to come to terms with her own guilt and the ghosts of her unborn children. Though it appears that she does not accomplish this, it is certain she is seeking to make peace with her children. If not for their sake, for her own.

The first line of the poem is the first sign that the poet is suffering from the guilt associated with abortions. Although Brooks is speaking in second person in this first section of the poem, it is clear that she is referring to herself. The weight of her guilt can be felt as she remembers "the damp small pulps with a little or with no hair." She even envisions them grown up as "singers" and "workers" that never had the opportunity to handle the air. She continues in this fashion, picturing in her mind soothing a child who is frightened by ghosts and by also contemplating leaving the child for whatever reason and returning back to them hungry, gobbling them with a mother's eye.

The second portion of the poem becomes more personal as Brooks shifts to first person, appearing to be more able to face the reality of what she has done. The poem also moves from what she has envisioned to what she has actually experienced. "I have heard . . . the voices of my dim killed children" is a gripping line that the poet cannot seem to escape. In the middle of the poem, Brooks begins to speak to her unborn children, which is another reason why the reader is lead to believe that Brooks is suffering from what she did to them. She refers to them as "my sweets" and again pictures in her mind all the things they could never do because of what she did. "If I seized your luck and your lives from your unfinished reach, if I stole your births and your names . . . your games, your lovely loves, your tumults, your marriages, aches, and your deaths . . ." are vivid examples of what Brooks sees when she remembers these unborn children. It is clear that although she never physically saw them, she is haunted by who they might have been and what they might have done. It is this very real image of her children that moves her to try to seek some sort of solace out of the situation by telling her children that in her deliberateness, "she was not deliberate." Brooks realizes that admitting she was not "deliberate" is the most she can do to help somewhat ease her pain. Although she does seem to accept responsibility at this point in the poem, it does not ease her guilt or sadness. From there she asks why "whine that the crime was other than mine?" and continues to speak to her children even though they are dead. This tells the reader that although Brooks



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