This study will present a critical analysis of the poem “Wishes for Sons” by Lucille Clifton. Wishes for Sons is a poem about pain and suffering. One of the aspects of the poem, which will become the subject of this essay, is the voice of the mother resonant throughout…
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The poem “Wishes for Sons” starts with a wish. At first, the reader thinks the poet is trying to escape from her own frustrations. How can a mother wish ill for her own child? On the second reading, one can see through the speaker’s mind, sympathizing with the mother. A mother who carries her child in the womb for nine months stays up days and nights to keep an eye on him, makes sure he does not get hurt and takes pleasure in each new step her child takes and suffers the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Her grown-up child is an epitome of disobedience and selfishness. The mother is completely torn at this site. At first, she must wonder if she deserves this kind of treatment from her own flesh and blood. When she fails to answer this troubling question, she starts to lose sanity and in that state of mind she is likely to wish him “cramps” and “strange towns”. She wishes him the same pain she had experienced while carrying him inside her. She also wishes that he experiences the difficulties of puberty that a female goes through. What she cannot wish for him is death. This is the power of mother’s unconditional love. Even in her most fretful moments, she cannot wish her child to die. This is just like a child who is too eccentric to use coarse language, but calls his elder brother, a mouse or a dragon, for eating his share of ice-cream! They say a mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her own child. Such is the nature of a mother. An example of a mother’s love for her child can be seen by an earthquake that struck China, killing more than seventy thousand people. There, beneath the rubble of a house, the rescuers found a body of a mother sheltering her dead child. Today, one only realizes the worth of his relations when it is too late. The damage is already done. These days, children abandon their own parents and arrogantly accusing them of not providing sufficient comfort. To this, the poet tastefully yet honestly adds: let them think they have accepted arrogance in the universe, then bring them to gynecologists, not unlike themselves. As though coming right through her heart, the speaker recalls the arrogant gynecologists who are trained to control their emotions because of the kind of substance they have to constantly deal with. The mother wishes that her conceited child is compelled to encounter these professionals, who would teach him a lesson in mannerism.
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