When I first began reading this poem, I had no idea what it was saying. I literally thought to myself, “What am I even reading?” After reading it a couple more times, going over notes from the lecture, and thinking a little more critically, I think I have more understanding of the poem.
Before getting into the poem itself, I think it’s important to quickly go over the time period and how women lived during it. Basically, women lived at home with their parents or at home with their husbands. Their jobs were to find a husband, take care of the home, cook, clean, have children, and take care of children. Whatever a woman might have had before she was married would be given to her husband as soon as they were wed. Women did not have things to themselves. Divorce was also not really an option at the time so when one was married that was it for the rest of her life.
In the first stanza, the narrator talks about the journey she’s taken and how she just wants to be let over the threshold. “My clothes are wet, and my teeth are set, / And the way was hard and long.” (lines 3-4) Seems like she might have went through hell and back to get where she is, just let her over the threshold, why can’t she just come in? I understood this journey of hers to equate to the journey of life as a woman during this time. I think the threshold she’s trying to cross is just a threshold of respect and a place in society that doesn’t come from a man.
In the second stanza, the narrator says, “The cutting wind is a cruel foe. / I dare not stand in the blast.” (lines 8-9) I imagine this goes along with the desire of some sort of respect in society. She’s taken hit after hit from this “cutting wind” that is a “cruel foe,” now she can’t take another hit. “My little white feet are sore.” (line 13) This line just restates the first stanza, her little feet are sore from the exhausting path she’s been on in her life to get just a little bit closer to having her own place in society.
In the last stanza, the point of view shifts, the narrator is no longer the woman who’s been on a lifelong journey to gain respect. The narrator is now talking about that woman in third person. The narrator talks about the woman as someone that is representative of all woman during this time who beg to be respected in society. “Her voice was the voice that women have, / Who plead for their heart’s desire.” (lines 15-16) In the lines, “She came- she came- and the quivering flame / Sunk and died in the fire.” (lines 17-18) it seems as if the woman’s will to keep fighting for herself and other women has depleted. She’s been on this journey for so long, just wants to cross the threshold, but no one will let her in, so she’s defeated.
Hello! Welcome to my blog page! My name is Abbie and I'm a Communication Studies student at Wright State University. I like to spend my free time shopping, playing Animal Crossing, and watching Netflix, of course. I'm currently not working so I get to hang out with my fiancé's two kids who are 4 and 5 every day.