Summary and Analysis of Godmother by Dorothy Parker: 2022

Introduction to the Poet:

Dorothy Parker (August 22, 1893 – June 7, 1967) was an American poet, short story writer, critic, and satirist, best known for her wit, wisecracks, and eye for 20th-century urban foibles.
She had an unhappy childhood but she rose to acclaim, for both for her literary output in The New Yorker and as a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table. Following the breakup of the circle, Parker traveled to Hollywood to pursue screenwriting. Her successes there, including two Academy Award nominations, were curtailed when her involvement in left-wing politics led to a place on the Hollywood blacklist.
Dismissive of her own talents, she deplored her reputation as a “wisecracker.” Nevertheless, her literary output and reputation for sharp wit have endured.

About Godmother:

The poem reflects on the wonderfulness of the godmother and the gratefulness of the child. Throughout the poem, the godmother is wonderfully portrayed as a symbolism of calm, wonderfulness, dignity and lovable beauty. The motherly affection bestows imposes learning of Christian morals. This poem is wonderfully woven.

The Setting of Godmother:

The poem is set in the church where a child is being baptized. Throughout the poem, the poet continues to build up lines that suggest the setting is in a church.
During the baptism of the child, various gifts are given and the child is baptized by bathing it on a silver bowl. The poem’s setting entirely focuses on the process and the ambiance of the church.

Poetic Devices in Godmother:

Rhyme scheme: ababcdcdeaeXafafXXgXhdhXcgcg
Closest metre: iambic trimeter
Сlosest rhyme: rima
Сlosest stanza type: sonnet
Presence iambic trimeter with trochaic trimester, as “A hag came and listened / At the white church door.”
Alliteration appears in several lines, such as the “g” sound in “gave me gold” and the “s” sound in “spat, and spoke”.
Anaphora is used in the case of the word “And,” which is repeatedly used at the beginning of the lines.

Summary of Godmother:

The day that I was christened-
It’s a hundred years, and more!-
A hag came and listened
At the white church door,
A-hearing her that bore me
And all my kith and kin
Considerately, for me,
Renouncing sin.”
The speaker says that the day she was baptized it has been a really long time. She remembers an old woman coming and listening at the church door. The door is white as if symbolizing purity and peace. She had come to baptize her as a child. All the relatives and friends of the family were invited and the old lady wanted to get the child rid of its sin from previous birth. This is as if a renouncing sin, or poor deeds.
“While some gave me corals,
And some gave me gold,
And porringers, with morals
Agreeably scrolled,
The hag stood, buckled
In a dim gray cloak;”
Next, the speaker recalls that she had received gifts like corals, gold, and porringers. A porringer is a shallow bowl, between 4 and 6 inches in diameter, and 1½” to 3″ deep. Some gifts contained scrolled paper directing morals. The old lady stood, buckled. She was wearing a dim gray cloak.
As the old woman stood there, she said:
“Stood there and chuckled,
Spat, and spoke:
“There’s few enough in life’ll
Be needing my help,
But I’ve got a trifle
For your fine young whelp.
I give her sadness,
And the gift of pain,
The new-moon madness,
And the love of rain.”
That is, she says, the woman went on and said, there will be many few people that will require her in life. However, she has got a little gift for the small child.She gives her sadness, pain and the madness of new moon and the love for the beautiful rain. Thus, she wants to fulfill the child with utmost love.
At last, she says:
“And little good to leave me
In their holy silver bowl
After what she gave me-
Rest her soul!”
These lines mean that at last the child is being bathed according to the method of baptism. In a silver bowl, the child is bathed and thus the old lady’s job is done. However, the poetess wishes the godmother to rest in peace, after baptizing her.

Critical Analysis of Godmother:

The poem is a feeling of gratitude and love towards the Godmother. A Godmother is someone who baptizes a child. From the beginning, the godmother is described as an old hag. However, with the development of the poem, we see the love that the poetess has for her Godmother. Even when many others gifted her with gold, corals and so many other things, she treasures the gift from her godmother the most.
The Godmother gifts her pain, happiness but most of all unending love, enthusiasm, and the morals. The Godmother is like her own mother, bestowing her with love in the most beautiful form. The Godmother is said to have done a great work and is appreciated equally.
The poem focuses on the wonderfulness of Godmother. Just like a mother, she teaches the child the morals and helps in her upbringing. The poem is thus an ideal example of the devotion.

Central Theme of Godmother:

The theme of the poem is one of respect, devotion, and gratefulness towards the Godmother. In Christianity, Godmother is someone who baptizes one, removing one’s sins. In this poem, the Godmother is a hag, with a gray cloak. The Godmother is a wonderfully dutiful woman who performs her duties skillfully.
Though the speaker gets various gifts, she treasures the gifts by her Godmother, respectively,
And the gift of pain,
The new-moon madness,
And the love of rain.”

The Tone of Godmother:

The tone is one of gratefulness and love. The gratefulness is shown when the speaker says that she wishes the godmother to rest in peace forever. She actually wishes the calmness and happiness of her soul. Further, she also wants to treasure the gifts that the godmother had given her.
The tone remains one of devotion and love throughout the poem.


A soulful cry of gratefulness and love, this poem stands supreme and expresses the emotions in a most effective manner.
Contributor: Bidisha Das

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