Woman to Man by Judith Wright Summary


The poem Woman to Man written by Judith Wright describes the feelings of a woman from the time of sexual encounter with her husband until the time of labour. She expresses her feelings as a wife as well as the holder of her future offspring in her belly.

Stanza 1

The eyeless labourer in the night,
the selfless, shapeless seed I hold
builds for its resurrection day---
silent and swift and deep from sight
foresees the unimagined light.

In the first stanza, the poet says that in the night she had a sexual encounter with her husband that was meant for pleasure resulted in some consequences as well.

This sexual encounter between the couple led to the creation of something in her body that has no shape and identity. She cannot see it, however, its growth is deep and fast as well which she, as the holder, can predict it. Thus it holds possibility.

Stanza 2

There is no child with a child's face;
this has no name to name it by;
yet you and I have known it well.
This is our hunter and our chase,
the third who lay in our embrace.

In the second stanza, the seed that she held after the sexual encounter has started attaining shape. Wright says that the creature is still shapeless and also has no shape. Still, she and her husband know well that they have created it and it will develop into a human.

The poet considers the creature both as their hunter as well as their chase. It is a hunter because it accompanied the sexual encounter between the couple which was meant for joy and pleasure. On the other hand, it is their chase as well because humans perform sex for it. Poet says that it will become the third one in the family.

Stanza 3

This is the strength that your arm knows,
the arc of flesh that is my breast,
the precise crystals of our eyes.
This is the blood's wild tree that grows
the intricate and the folded rose.

In the third stanza, the poet explains the stage of its further development in her belly. According to Wright, the infant will possess in it the energy and strength of the man (its father) as well as the flesh of woman (its mother) that it will gain in this stage.

Thus it has become the star of its parents. Like a tree, it will also grow into a human and like the unfolding of rose flower it will develop the ways, manners, nature and all other traits of its parents.

Stanza 4

This is the maker and the made;
this is the question and reply
the blind head butting at the dark,
the blaze of light along the blade.
Oh hold me, for I am afraid.

In the fourth stanza, Wright describes the final stage of the infant in her belly. According to her, the infant that she made (created) along with her husband will be another maker (like them) in the future.

It is both a creature that raises the question in her mind as well as the answer to her questions. It is an enlightened brain (without eyes) that is searching for the rays of light as it is at about to come into the world (along with the blade).

A blade is a tool that cuts something. Here the dawn, which has very scarce sun rays can is the blade that cuts day and night. Thus the child is at this stage (between prenatal which is dark and natal stage which is shining.)

It’s coming out into the world makes the poet afraid. I think it is the labour pain that frightens her. Thus the poem starts in the dead of night (when they have sexual encounter) and ends in the dawn.