Kimberly Bond
English 2000
Fall 2000

Creator of Life

In Judith Wright's lyric poem "Woman to Child," a mother's emotions regarding pregnancy and motherhood are successfully expressed. Although pregnancy is often viewed as uncomfortable, the author portrays it as a life-altering, pleasant, and continuous experience. These feelings about the experience of motherhood are portrayed through the structure of the writing and the use of figurative language. The poem's four-stanza structure divides the experience into a sequence of four different stages, and the use of figurative language helps to portray these stages in an artistic and poetic manner. As a result of the clever use of these two elements, the theme of maternal love is expressed in an exceedingly attractive style.

Wright's use of a four-stanza structure traces the path of maternity from conception to the birth of the child. The first stanza is obviously portraying the act of fertilization, and this is made obvious in the line, "where out of the darkness rose the seed" (2). The speaker is saying that she has made life, and the reader can sense that she takes great pride in her ability. The speaker obviously sees her sexuality as a gift and believes her ability to give birth is extraordinary. These feelings are figuratively expressed through the line, "Then all a world I made in me" (3). The woman sees her unborn child as her world, as newly pregnant woman often do. This line could also mean that by creating life she is giving her child the world. The idea that to give life is to give the world is further expressed when she says, "all the world you hear and see / hung upon my dreaming blood" (4-5).

The next stanza describes the beginning of pregnancy when the mother and child are in the first stages of their eternal relationship. The speaker feels a great sense of power in this new relationship, and she compares her creation to God's creation of the earth: "There moved the multitudinous stars, / and the coloured birds and fishes moved" (6-7). These lines could also be describing the massive change that has occurred in the woman's life, a change so intense that her outlook on life has changed. Although she obviously cares for the child she is carrying, the relationship is not fully developed because she still feels somewhat detached from the life inside her body. The fact that she feels the baby is still a stranger to her is expressed in the line, "and love that knew not its beloved" (10). Perhaps she is saying she loves her unborn child, but their relationship has not yet reached a personal level.

The third stanza represents a more developed relationship between the mother and her unborn child, or the end of the pregnancy. In this stanza she makes it obvious that her child has become the center of her world and she also feels she is the center of its world: "O node and focus of the world" (11). The very next line of the poem, "I hold you deep within that well" (12), can be interpreted in two different ways. The first suggests that the speaker encloses the baby in her womb and therefore reinforces the fact that she feels she is the center of the child's world. A second interpretation refers to a more emotional aspect of their relationship, in which the mother feels that she will forever shelter her child within her own soul. Although these interpretations are quite different, they both offer a form of protection to the child, one being physical and the other emotional. In this stanza the speaker also says the child "shall escape and not escape," (13) which further enforces the idea that there is a physical relationship as well as an emotional one. While the child will physically escape from the mother's body, it will emotionally remain a part of her forever.

The last stanza is a powerful one and it describes the act of labor and childbirth: "I wither and you break from me" (16). The speaker once again enforces the idea that she is a creator when she states, "I am the earth, I am the root, / I am the stem that fed the fruit" (18-19). Perhaps she is saying that although the child now has its own life, she will forever be the creator of that life. The last line of the poem is very powerful and can be interpreted in different ways: "[I am] the link that joins you to the night" (20). While this line states that she has given this child life, it also states that by giving life she has also started the child on its journey to death. Although it seems morbid, it adds a sense of completion because the poem starts with conception and ends with death.

Judith Wright's poem "Woman to Child" uses figurative language and structure to bring a positive light to what can be seen as a negative experience. As a result, pregnancy and childbirth are portrayed as enviable rather than pitiable. The poem as a whole expresses a theme of maternal love, which is perhaps the strongest love that can be felt for an individual. Wright clearly illustrates the complexity and the depth between a woman and her child.

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Copyright © 2000 by Kimberly Bond.  All rights reserved.