Poetry and Persona
Section 7 – Poetry
Nurture by Maxine Kumin
1. This poem is about maternal feelings and how a woman tends to be overly maternal. The persona in the poem talks about how she learned that pillow cases make good “marsupials” for orphaned kangaroos, so, if ever she is faced with that situation, she would know what to do. She says she is drawn to the drama of the abandoned animals and she says that there is always room for love and protection in her house and, in her heart. She talks about how, if there had been a “wild child,” in a 19th century account, she would have had room for him as well, which probably means that, she also feels a maternal inclination for the children and the abandoned victims she reads about in books. In the end, she says, feelings and language are connected, since we probably constructed words that fit what we feel inside and that is how we came up with things like laughter and “howl,” which in itself has a painful feeling and sound.
. In “Nurture,” the speaker is the first person, and the style is quite simple, almost like a real person talking about herself. There are some metaphors – the woman is the lover of fallen, the abused and the starved, some comparisons – “filthy and fierce as a ferret,” and some images that lead the reader to think about how language and speech are connected and in what way.