May Swenson?S “Women” Essay, Research Paper
In May Swenson?s poem, Women, the imagery and structure work very well with the content of the poem. Swenson writes a poem about women and what they should be. At first glance, the image of the poem could be a play on women and their curves. However, once the reader examines the content of the poem, it is clear that Swenson is using the image of the poem to play on what women should be, or perhaps what they are perceived to be.
The first stanza says that women should be moving to the motions of men. This is clearly seen in how the poem is moving across the page. However, the perplexing part of this stanza is that Swenson says that women should be pedestals. When thinking of a pedestal, the reader might imagine that a woman should be held as a position of high regard and adoration. This seems to be an impossible task to undertake when Swenson suggests that a woman should be reliant upon the man for her movement.
The last part of this stanza discusses how women should be little rocking horses. This seems to portray an image that a woman is merely a childish prize. This relates back to childhood and how the prettiest toy is always the best, and children always want the best toy or prize. Still, this part of the stanza gives another image of how women should be moving, just like the poem.
The second stanza, which is swaying back in the opposite direction form the first, seems to take a different turn to how women should be. This middle stanza possesses an almost a negative connotation, which is very hard to interpret. However, this negativity seems to be only sarcasm. Swenson writes about the ears of a horse, which a child might hold onto while riding. This could be interpreted to have a sexual content, but this may not be how the author meant to come across to the audience. The imagery of this stanza, which seems to be rocking back in the opposite direction of the first, is shown in the words of a young child riding their rocking horse.
The last part of this stanza brings more of an insight to the structure of the poem. The rocking horse is to be chafed feelingly and unfeelingly. This back and forth movement of emotions could signify how some people viewed women. Perhaps, that once again women are only prizes to be owned and used. However, Swenson writes that these rocking horses are to be rockingly ridden. Once again, what should be of women is in some kind of context involving movement. This movement is then mirrored in the rocking of each stanza.
The last stanza begins very strangely with the word immobile. There is a very strong sense of motion in the first two stanzas and now there is a sudden stop and pause. This emphasizes how Swenson characterizes women with the next few words: sweetlipped, sturdy, and smiling. This last thing that Swenson describes women as being is always waiting. This is a very drastic change from moving pedestals and rocking horses. Women are now very still and stagnate, waiting to be set into motion by men. This seems to be an irony that Swenson is working with. First they are moving and almost being used. However now they are very still, and just waiting to be used.
The change in each stanza is seen in the visual aspect of the poem. It begins by being like a moving pedestal and a sweet prized rocking horse, rocking back and forth. The poem then takes an ironic turn and shows a dramatic change in the last stanza, which is represented by a shorter and more standstill type of view. This visualization gives a deeper look into the poem, and shows the ironic part which may not be easily detected in the literal terms.