Posted by: Denise Hill
Date: October 01, 2004 10:13AM
“Her name is She-Who-Brings-Happiness because upon being carried,”
This line alone stood out to me because it indicates that the baby was not named until after being born. That is different from Anglo-culture births in which parents either name children after someone else or work for months to come up with a name for their child, reading name books, arguing with their spouses. My husband and I just got a kitten. I told him, “He’s too young for a name, we have to see how his personality develops, then we can name him.”
The repetitive phrase, “She’s so sweet, we don’t know what to do.” I took at first to just mean they were overwhelmed with her personality and simply enjoying it for what it is without feeling they needed to do anything about it. It’s as though to say, were she a bad child or not sweet, we would know what to do with her – train her, tame her, punish her, redirect her. But as she is so sweet, the adults have nothing they can do but to enjoy her. On second read, I wonder if there is a note of worry in that line; that is, she is so sweet the world may very well take advantage of her and we don’t know what to do about it, or that she is so sweet, but someday it will all change when she meets reality and what can we do about it? It has to happen. The sweetness will someday be lost, through that as well as just through her growing up, into and obstinate teen to a bitter adult. Or, perhaps, on further consideration, it is a call to the reader to have her understand there is much an adult can do, and, as in this poem, they are: holding her, loving her, telling her stories, giving her physical nourishment as well as emotional and spiritual.
Posted by: Wendy Keyser
Date: April 15, 2006 02:10PM
In response to the idea that the child is "so sweet we don't know what to do" could have an undertone of worry, I think that adds a layer of that reader's understanding of the world, but does not seem to me to be part of the poem. This could be because my experience of being a mom for the past two years has given me so many little moments of overpowering sweetness, sweetness that seems impossible, unusual, and miraculous. And, it seems impossible to be able to express those moments in a way that others can understand (so I add to the not knowing what to do a sense of not knowing how to express this sweetness). I can tell the story of my two children deciding to lie on the floor while brushing their teeth, and it will seem funny and cute, but for me there is another layer of their easy access to joy, playfulness, innocent lack of limitations. And it feels like that part just can't get across to someone who doesn't really know the child. The sweetness continues to arrive as the baby grows, "like the sweet surprise/ she will always be," and the perspective of the grandmother in the poem reminds me that this appreciation I have for my children is not only because they are so wonderful, but because of my internalizing of the gift it is to get to be their mother. Still, I am sad and wistful as I think into the future of the day where they will experience the buffets of the world and lose that young, new, unaffected sweetness.
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