An Isolated Ocean


In the poem “The Mad Mother,” an isolated and deranged woman speaks to her newborn child after being abandoned by a “poor…wretched made” man “that’s gone and far away”(117). Caspar David Friedrich’s painting “The Monk by the Sea” depicts this premise well as the single figure amidst a vast ocean captures the essence of the woman’s newfound loneliness having traveled “far over the main” herself after separating with the baby’s father (114). Yet the painting’s darker color palette, such as the blackened sea and cloudy sky, conveys uneasiness and discomfort, just like the woman’s morbid demands for her baby to “suck, little babe, oh suck again” and cool her blood and brain, as if the baby serves to pleasure her and satiate her sexual desires since her husband left her and “cares not for my breast” (115;116). Though their new lives together have limitless potential as the open sea depicts, until the waters clear up, their relationship will always be one reminiscent of hatred and manipulation of the past instead of one that moves on in search for a hopeful future, as they only have each other to face “the sea-rock’s edge” and “leaping torrents when they howl” (116). The woman is merely one of many tormented and deserted mothers left with the untimely burden of raising a child on her own, a burden that can feel like an empty, directionless ocean.


–Jose Ramirez

One thought on “An Isolated Ocean

  1. Connecting the poem to the painting I really enjoyed it because I was able to see what you were seeing in the painting. The post was straightforward. An opinion other than just an analysis could really make the post stronger.


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