Woman to Man by Judith Wright
At first glance, the title seemed to have more than one connotation.
“Woman to Man.”
Maybe the title is trying to compare the two genders?
I was slightly confused when I read this poem at first, but it became apparent from the rich metaphors, that it was about the sexual relation between the woman and man. It is also about conception – or rather the potential of creating a child from this sexual act – told from the woman’s point of view.
Judith Wright was very bold in writing such a poem since it was published in 1949, when such issues weren?t discussed in the public, but as a well regarded poet, she had achieved a good reputation for expressing herself, and therefore could write a subjective poem about this issue.
The title seems to mean now, “Woman to Man” as if the woman is offering herself to the Man, offering her body to create a child, through the act of sex. It also means that the woman has something to give to the man, not only the pleasure, but through blood and pain, a child.
The language compliments the mood of this poem, as it varies from a sad and melancholy cry, to a voice of hope, all in a constant confident feel, and by this, the poet’s reflections and contemplation?s are communicated successfully to us, making us feel in the same way she has felt.
The first stanza begins with a bold and confident entry describing in a simple way the sexual relation between the man and the woman; or better said; Woman to Man. The ?seed? which the woman holds – has the potential of becoming a child. The image of the day of birth as a ?resurrection day? is important in this respect for, just as the resurrection of Christ defeated death, so too, does each individual conception and birth.
The use of alliteration in this first stanza contributes a crescendo of confidence, which relates to the pain, and stress building up until the conception. This also can be interpreted as the excitement during the sexual act. The relief following is shown in the three remaining stanzas which are quieter, and are more explanatory, and by this the poet has intended to show us the relief emancipated from the mother after the birth, or also, after their sexual act.
There are many strong metaphors, which compliment this poem, making the reader think of the meanings:
In line 4, in the first stanza, the child who is active throughout, “foresees” the “unimagined” light: it foresees the light of life which is unimagined, because the embryo cannot possibly comprehend something which it has never experienced.
The second stanza shows how the child which they are creating, is unforeseen to them, but they feel its presence, it is an intimate moment where both the parents feel another, as well as the child presence, for the reason which they came together was to create the child.
The third stanza talks about the strength of the man ?this is the strength that your arm knows?, and about the beauty of the woman ?the arc of flesh that is my breast?, and how focused they are on each other, ?the precise crystal of our eyes.? The image of the “blood’s wild tree that grows/ the intricate and folded rose” ‘in stanza three, hints at the passion of the lovers, as well as suggesting both the embryo’s physical dependence upon its mother, and also its place in the generations of humanity. If we take the “intricate and folded rose” to be the embryo, which is certainly both “intricate” and “folded”, then the “bloods wild tree” on which it grows is the mother’s circulatory system, a great tree-like system of arteries and veins rooted to the beating heart. The embryo is the flower and the fruit of this tree, hanging on it, sustained by it. At the same time the tree suggests both the family tree and the tree of life, a symbol for the continuity of life.
This is no child with a child’s face; this has no name to name it by…This is our hunter and our chase …
This is the maker and the made; This is the question and the reply …
The peom has a rhythmic pattern that compliments the metaphors and paradoxes. The stanzas begin and end, individually, for the first and last lines rhyme, which creates a feeling of ?wholleness? to each stanza, quite appropriate to the act of creating or bearing a child.
It is like a song, a pentameter that begins bold, but ends in a quiet tone, making its reader reflect, not only about the ending, but the entire poem as a serious issue, that fornication is, or can be, a holy act.