Table of Contents
Home They Brought Her Warrior Dead portrays the raw reactions of a widow at her warrior husband’s funeral. However, her reaction is unlike any other widows’.
The poem follows the abab rhyme scheme except in the second stanza, where it is abac.
Stanza I and II
Home they brought her warrior dead She nor swooned, nor uttered a cry: All her maidens, watching, said, ‘She must weep or she will die’. Then they praised him, soft and low. Called him worthy to be loved, Truest friend and noblest foe; Yet she neither spoke nor moved.
The speaker narrates the entire incident and thus provides a third-person perspective to the readers. The widow is present and her husband’s corpse is brought in. However, she seems indifferent, she does not lament or faint.
This stunned the others present and they said that if she refused to express herself and suppressed her emotions, the silent grieving would kill her. The deceased warrior was praised by the rest of the attendees. They referred to him as the “truest friend,” implying that he was a virtuous person. Yet she stood motionless and mute, not seeming to be stirred by the compliments directed at her husband.
Stanza III and IV
Stole a maiden from her place, Lightly to the warrior stepped, Took the face-cloth from the face; Yet she neither moved nor wept. Rose a nurse of ninety years, Set his child upon her knee – Like summer tempest came her tears – ‘Sweet my child, I live for thee’.
To remove any uncertainty from the widow’s heart and make her believe that this was indeed her deceased husband, one of the maidens slowly moved the shroud covering the warrior’s face. This was an attempt to eliminate any denial the widow was going through and drive her to express her grief in open.
However, what made the widow finally cry was the realisation that she had to care for a child on her own. The child was left fatherless and the widow could not bear this thought. So, when the nurse put the child on her knee, the widow could no longer suppress her emotions and the tears flowed freely down her face.