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A woman mourned by daughters again

A Woman Mourned By Daughters: An Analysis

"A Woman Mourned by Daughters", by Adrienne Rich, is a very descriptive

poem in which two women are speaking to their dead mother. There are several

parts to this poem starting from the when the mother dies, and moving gradually

backward to when the daughters were young girls.

It begins with the daughters sitting in their mothers kitchen, "mourning"

over their mothers death, only they aren't upset or crying (Lines 1-3). They are

"spent" (drained and tired) from all the pressure their mother put on them,

before and after she died.

The next section (Lines 4-10) is a description of their dead mother as a

persistent presence in their lives. They are so burdened by the power she still

carries over them, even though she is no longer living.

They proceed in speaking about her as an elderly woman, weak and frail, "

a straw blown on the bed" (Lines 11-14). The describe her on her death bed. "

Like a corpse pulled from the sea".

In the fourth section (Lines 15-20) they discuss that what upsets them

now that she is gone, isn't the fact that she died, it is all the things that

she used to do to them. A knot forms in their throats ("what rises in our

throats like the food you prodded in") as they think about how they used to be


After the mother dies, the daughters are left with several

responsibilities which are discussed in the next section (Lines 22-28). These

responsibilities are not ones which the daughters would be happy to take care of.

They are so hateful toward their mother and the problems she left are only a

burden to them. They feel that they are still being pushed around even after

she is dead. Even the thought of taking care of their sick and dying father is

thought of as a chore instead of a blessing.

The final section of this poem (Lines 29-33) basically states that if

they do something, and it isn't exactly the way their mother would have wished

it done, they will be punished. They will feel the guilt from their mother,

from beyond the grave, if they do not do things the way she did them, or would

have wanted them done.

The author of this poem made the daughters the speaker and the mother

the auditor. In some ways it makes you feel sorry for the mother, yet in others

you feel sorry that the daughters went through all this and have to live with it

for the rest of their lives. It probably would have been written totally

different if it were written in the eyes of the dead mother as opposed to the


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