Good Mother Poem by Rachel Eliza Griffiths Review
Inconsolable, she falls to the ground in distress and falls to pieces as her body shakes with uncontrollable sobs. An aching so deep that it is impossible to disregard as those around her stare in judgement; however, one kind soul reaches out and offers a helping hand. Dealing with the loss of a loved one is difficult and can cause erratic and irrational emotions to arise due to the trauma and stress induced. Rachel Eliza Griffiths’s poem “Good Mother” does an exceptional job of expressing the emotions of a despairing daughter struggling with the loss of her mother through the utilization of figurative language such as anaphora and juxtaposition as well as a sad, respectful, and chaotic tone.
Griffiths elegy to her mother utilizes figurative language such as anaphora and juxtaposition to relay the emotions of a woman suffering the loss of her mother during the springtime. Anaphora is implemented all throughout the poem through the usage of the phrase “Praise the woman who…” in order to display the respect and awe the narrator feels for the woman who stepped in and aided her during her panic attack. Through the repetition of this phrase, the author is not only showing how much the narrator reveres the woman who held her in her arms, but also working to ensure the audiences realization that this woman was a major determinant in helping the narrator come to terms with her mother’s passing. Griffith also utilizes juxtaposition to further express the patience and compassion the stranger showed her; for instance, the woman held the narrator in “…a vicious prayer” unwilling to let go even as the narrator struggled in her arms. The author wanted to express the woman’s conviction and determination to help the narrator through her suffering while also conveying the unrelenting torment and anxiety the narrator was experiencing. The kindness of the prayer juxtaposes the vicious actions of the narrator as both struggled to get through the panic attack together. The repetition of the narrator’s praise and the juxtaposing emotions used demonstrate the anger and sadness the narrator felt while also displaying the patient compassion of the stranger.
In determining the tone of “Good Mother,” it is important to consider the multiple emotions that are felt when losing a loved one such as disbelief, anger, and sadness. The tone of the poem follows a solemn and anxious atmosphere while also demonstrating the narrator’s affection towards the stranger. The somber tone is brought about through multiple expressions, one such includes, “Something ripped itself out of me. A howl so wide I thought I would burst.” The diction utilized by Griffiths conveys an unfathomable sadness--- one that cannot be explained with words. She is unable to control the overbearing sadness she feels in her hear, and is, as a result, powerless to the cries that escape her. Griffiths implementation of such words cause a heartache in even the reader as the unrelenting pain can be understood by many who have lost someone dear to them. An anxious tone is constructed through the chaos that has spread all around the narrator and this stranger; for example, they both “…fell over & crashed against a row of votive candles” all while a crowd was gathering and questions were being asked. All the disorder around them and the clamoring of others reveals the anxious panic of the narrator and her struggle to control her emotions. Her pushing and biting only adding to the chaos of the moment. However, even though the author has built up this solemn and anxious tone, on the other side, there is a kind of serene and reverent tone. At the end of the poem where Griffiths writes, “…for you I lift my arms each spring & wish you a kindness so fantastic I sometimes feel I’m in midair…” an affectionate tone is created. The implementation of such kind words reveals the narrator’s appreciation of the stranger who helped her come to terms with her loss and casts a warmth over the poem that otherwise would not have been there.
Ultimately, Griffiths’s poem, “Good Mother,” is a passionate illustration of a woman who has struggled to come to terms with the passing of her mother; however, through the help of a kind stranger, she is finally able to acknowledge the reality of the situation and move on. Griffiths worked to express the emotions of grief and loss throughout her poem in a way that could be understood by anyone who had ever lost someone dear to them. The departure of a loved one is never easy, and it can be hard to let go of them and accept that they have moved on; however, Griffiths’s poem is an amazing example of someone recognizing that life goes on.