This poem summary focuses on the lyrical poem ‘Home they brought her Warrior Dead’ by Alfred Lord Tennyson. This poem is made up of four stanzas, each consisting of four lines each. The whole poem is written in third person with the narrator describing a particular incident. The incident in question is a recently-widowed woman’s reaction to her husband’s death in battle.
In the first stanza, the narrator describes how the husband’s corpse was brought to his home after he had passed away while fighting in the war field. All the onlookers had expected the wife to faint at the sight of her dead husband, or to start weeping uncontrollably. However, the wife shocked everybody. She stood stock still, and she did not shed even a single tear. However, this was not a sign of strength, thought the onlookers. They believed she was in shock, and had not accepted her husband’s death as true till then. All of the widow’s women, who were surrounding her, watched her and finally they said that she must cry, or else she would perish. They said this because they believed that all the pain that the widow was keeping pent up inside her would eventually have an adverse effect on her health, and that she would not survive from the misery inflicted on her by her husband’s death.
In the second stanza, the narrator describes how the maidens who had come to visit the widow tried in various ways to make her aware of the loss she had been through so as to evoke an emotional reaction from her. They spoke in gentle tones while praising her dead husband, and said that he had deserved all the love she had given him. They did this to remind her of the deep relation between husband and wife that she seems to have ignored in her shock. Perhaps reminding her of how close she had been to her now-gone husband would bring tears to her eyes, and these tears would ease her pain and relieve her mind of the pressure to hide her emotions in front of the crowd of onlookers. The maidens also said that had been the “truest friend” and the “noblest foe” they had ever seen. Such praise of the husband, not just from the wife’s point of view, but from society’s point of view, was aimed at reminding the widow of the nobility and dignity her husband commanded from the world at large. That his loss was a loss to all who knew him might be a greater realization for the wife, reasoned the maidens. However, none of their words seemed to have any effect on the wife. She still stood motionless and silent.
In the third stanza, the narrator describes how one particular maiden made a concentrated effort from her own side to make the widow cry, and thus express her grief. This maiden walked up slowly and quietly to the corpse, and removed the face-cloth that covers the faces of dead bodies from the face of the woman’s husband. Perhaps seeing her husband’s countenance would prove to be too difficult an experience for the widow, and she would at last dissolve in uncontrollable tears. However, once again, the widow surprised every onlooker. She refused to move, or to shed a tear.
In the fourth stanza, the apparent mystery of the widow’s motionlessness and silence is solved. The narrator describes how an old nurse of ninety years’ age placed the widow’s child on her knee, and then, to everyone’s relief, the widow’s tears came down with the force of a storm like the ones that occur in summer months. In addition to this, the widow uttered her first words since seeing her husband’s corpse, and told her child that she would go on with her life for the child’s sake. Thus it is apparent that all the while the widow had been thinking of her child who would have to live life without a father. This concern of the widow’s had kept her paralyzed and speechless in worry. But in the end, she resolved that she would care for her child in every way and never let the child feel abandoned or unloved.
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