A Mother Finds the Light

When looking a the image The Abby in the Oakwood by the artist Caspar David Friedrich I was captured both by sadness and darkness but still a glimpse of hope remained. These emotions came from the shading of the image from dark to light. We see a lot of darkness in the imagine, in particular with the tree branches and what appears to be left of a building. The darkness is what captures us first much like in William Wadsworth lyrical ballad  “The Mad Mother”. We are introduced to this darkness simply with the title of the poem with the word “mad” having a negative connotation. This darkness remains in the poem in the first three lines,

“Her eyes are wild, her head is bare,

The Sun has burnt her coal-black hair.

Her eye-brows have rusty stain,”.

This can be represented in the image, what is left of the building is much like what is left of her. She has been torn down and lives in this darkness. The dark tree branches are also represented in the poem and one can almost picture the mad mother walking among the dark trees in the image,

“And on the green-wood stone,

She talked and stung the woods among;”.

This madness and darkness of both the image and poem both shift. In the painting we see the darkness move into light as the images moves upwards, this shift provides a sense of hope amongst the darkness. Wadsworth also has this shift in the poem, from a madness and darkness to this sense of hope within the mad mother in having her child,

“Sweet babe! They say that I am mad,

But nay, my heart is far too glad;

And I am happy when I sing”

Though we are given this light in the image and light of hope in the poem the darkness still hoovers above. In the image though it appears to be moving towards lightness, at the very top there is a gray area reminding the viewer that the darkness that is still there. The Mad Mother also reminds the reader of this darkness within the poem as she returns to the woods at the very end.

-Alondra Morales Aguilar


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