An Analysis of “The Widow’s Lament in Springtime,” by William Carlos Williams

In his poem “The Widow’s Lament in Springtime,” William Carlos Williams uses visual imagery, by inverting the connotation of the color white -from being passive and pure to representing death- to portray the delicate side of mourning. The white plum trees and flaming new grass are among the first clues that Williams presents that identify the season in which the poem takes place: spring. Williams juxtaposes the external environment of the subject of the poem with the internal feelings of the subject by placing the mourner in spring time- a period traditionally associated with rebirth and joy.  Williams uses tactile imagery in describing the grass as cold and fiery. The cold being fiery is contrary to what the sense of touch typically registers. By using this contrast, Williams projected the internal coldness that the widow felt onto the external surroundings. The intensity of the cold was so great that it burned, much like hypothermia.  Williams uses kinesthetic imagery when speaking of the widow sinking into the march. The act of sinking is associated with passivity. The use of this form of imagery concludes the poem with the passive helplessness that the widow feels as she sinks into her own despair. 

In his poem “The Widow’s Lament in Springtime,” William Carlos Williams presents, what he believed was the perspective of a lamenting widow.  The widow in the poem found no happiness in the cherry blossom trees that “were [her] joy/ formerly,” (Williams, 17-18). She had a living son who was seemingly not as depressed as she is, as he was capable of leaving his house to go to the meadows. This implies how Williams believed a woman should react to losing her husband and how that differs from a son reacting to losing his father. Despite still having her son, the widow seems to have lost all sources of joy in life and wanted to pursue a passive death via sinking into the marsh. This portrays how Williams believes a woman should and would react to the death of her husband.

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