Gwendolyn Brook's Poem The Mother – Book Report/Review Example

Gwendolyn Brooks’s poem ‘The Mother’ is a poignant look into the perspective of a woman who has undergone several abortions. The poem speaks of the unborn children as existing in limbo, a situation that is difficult to put into words: ‘oh, what shall I say, how is the truth to be said?’ The question of life is rendered complex as Brooks muses over how exactly unborn children are to be described. They did ‘exist’ at some point in time, in that sense they were ‘born’ but of course, they never experienced what we usually understand by birth. Brooks expresses this in the lines, ‘You were born, you had body, you died./ It is just that you never giggled or planned or cried.’
The question of when an embryo turns into a ‘baby’ has been debated over the last few decades with much passion. While those ‘pro-choice’ advocate abortions on the usual logic that embryos do not actually become fetuses till the eighth week of pregnancy while those ‘pro-life’ consider the embryo to be a human life from almost the day of its conception. While Brooks does not directly mention either of these terms or questions in her poem, she makes her stand amply clear. Her poetic persona speaks directly to her aborted embryos as her own children: ‘I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim killed children.’ At the same time, the persona is of a woman who has herself undergone several abortions. Brooks therefore does sympathize with the position of the mother compelled to abort her child, as well: ‘Believe that even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate’ and ‘Believe me, I loved you all./ Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you/ All’ are lines that bring out the immense pain and self-inflicted torture that the woman goes through after the abortions.
The idea of avenging a wrong in this poem is almost absent. The tone is more melancholic and pathetic than angry and revenge-seeking. The woman who has had to kill her children does not ask for retribution; instead she attempts to come to terms with her actions through this imagined conversation with her dead children who she tries to reassure of her love. The woman claims that the crime is her own and therefore takes full responsibility for it. The question of revenge does not arise.