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“The Woman” is a poem written by R. S. Thomas. As the title suggests, it is a poem that is written to commemorate women.
About the Poet:
R. S. Thomas (1913-2000) was a prominent Welsh poet. He was also an Anglican priest. Famous works of his include “No Truce With The Furies”, “A Blackbird Singing”, and “The Woman”.
This poem is a lyric that consists of 19 lines encompassed in a single stanza.
Analysis and Summary:
So beautiful--God himself quailed at her approach: the long body curved like the horizon. Why had he made her so? How would it be, she said, leaning towards him, if instead of quarreling over it, we divided it between us? You can have all the credit for its invention, if you will leave the ordering of it to me. He looked into her eyes and saw far down the bones of the generations that would navigate by those great stars, but the pull of it was too much. Yes, he thought, give me their minds' tribute, and what they do with their bodies is not my concern. He put his hand in his side and drew out the thorn for the letting of the ordained blood and touched her with it. Go, he said. They shall come to you for ever with their desire, and you shall bleed for them in return
The poem begins with the description of the first woman Eve– God seemed to “quail” before her presence, in awe of her beauty. Here, Eve makes a tempting deal with God– He could take the credit for the creation of the human race if were to let her do the task of “ordering” herself. God could see the truth in the woman’s eyes and the generations that were to come and agrees to take the credit for the mind of Man and not what “they do with their bodies”. And thus he blessed her with the thorn, granting her wish by granting her motherhood.
This poem is written in praise of women, their beauty and their intelligence. Here, motherhood has been represented as a powerful symbol of the creation of mankind. The lines “Go, he said. They shall come to you for ever/ with their desire, and you shall bleed for them in return”, refers to a woman losing her maidenhood to a man in order to procreate. Also, owing to his faith, Christian ideologies can be seen in the poem as well.
This is a thought-provoking, feminist poem that brings out the importance of women in the survival of mankind and praises them for their mind and grace.