Friday, 6 January 2012

The Woman Speaks to the Man who has employed Her Son

This poem is relatively easy to understand. Here is a synopsis of the poem

The Woman Speaks to the Man who has employed Her Son by Lorna Goodison

In this poem, a mother expresses her deep affection for her son. She reflects
on the unfortunate circumstances of her life as a single parent.
She is now concerned about the welfare of her son.
This woman is seen as one, whose deep devotion and dedication to her son
make her transcend her difficulties. Her responsibility to her son takes priority.
But what shatters her now, is the fact that her son is employed by someone
who appears to be engaged in shady activities. To her, the gun he carries is a
symbol of destructiveness and criminal activities.
The conversational style of the poem makes the reader empathize with the
thoughts and feelings of the mother. The reader discerns in the mother,
fortitude, resilience and spiritual strength which inform her actions.

Did you identify the themes and literary devices in this poem? What are they?

Answer these Questions
1. What is the theme of the poem?
2. The mood of the poem is one of
(a) disgust and anger
(b) optimism and hope
(c) sadness and despair
3. Which of these words describe the tone of the poem?
formal, conversational, angry, serious?
4. What do the lines “a metallic tide,
rising in her mouth each morning”
suggest about the mother?
5. “He treated all his children
With equal and unbiased indifference.”
What do the above lines suggest about the father?
6. Why do you think that the mother is upset about the job her son has taken?
7. What do the “black cloth” and “veiled hat” symbolize?
8. Select the line which expresses the mother’s helplessness.
9. Why does she allude to the “thief on the left side of the cross”?
10. How do you feel as you read the poem?


  1. what are the themes in the poem, please help!!

    1. dreams and aspirations
      attitude to power and authority exploitation and poverty

  2. what are the social issues displayed in the poem

  3. Am doing this subject for the first time and i am self tutoring so any help i can get is appreciated thank you

  4. i find the poem long so i just think it's boring.
    i really need to understand this poem

    1. hi u look good wanna hook up 8=========D (0)

  5. What is the significance of saying Absalom at the end?

    1. Don't know if this is too late but Absalom was the son of King David in the Bible so here you have the device called Biblical allusion. He tried to overthrow his father to become King; however he met a terrible death. Even though he opposed the king, his father, when he died the king went into mourning for his son. Having said this, can you now see why the poet ends the poem with Absalom?

    2. A more direct answer re Absolom would yield greater appreciation for the poem. Beautiful poem, disastrously confounding in the end.

    3. The summary of it all is that he will meet a horrible death.
      In order to study a poem you have to give or opinion or suggest answers and I will now get an idea of where u r. So in the future make an attempt at answering even if u consider it ""

  6. Mrs dunkley can u please tell me what is the theme in this poem

    1. love, family relationship (between the son and her mother; the abandonment of the father)

      dreams and aspirations (the dreams the mother has for the son)

  7. What is number four's answer??? Plz help

    1. It means she was pregnant

  8. what is the speakers attitude? plz help :)

  9. Mrs.Dunkley what does no.7 mean?

    1. The black cloth will b used to make her funeral clothes and u do know black signifies death. The veiled hat will b worn to the funeral to help conceal her grief especially in the eyes. In essence she is preparing for his funeral