The great amount of respect and admiration a child had for its mother’s courage is abundantly evident throughout Edna St. Vincent Millay’s The Courage That My Mother Had. Simultaneously, the poem conveys feelings of betrayal. Millay’s poem, through strong associations with equally as strong words, such as rock and granite, infers the general theme of the poem and the amount of titular courage the poem’s mother possessed. In lines 3-4, a rock is compared to her mother, who was born and raised in New England emerged or was “quarried” from other similarly strong willed and courageous people.
This courage having been “passed” to the mother as it should have been passed to the poem’s child. The granite hill could be inferred as being the lack of empowerment in women at the time-lifeless, and stagnant. The new granite is infusing this generation with life and empowerment. In line 11. Her mother’s courage is also compared to a rock, one that is so strong but was not left for her to keep.
It is absolutely unacceptable to the child that its mother died and took the courage with her to the grave because that courage should have been like a rock and existed for all time.
The mother has no more need of it for she has died. The narrator longs not only for the mother, but for its own self worth and existence. What initially begins as a sort of tribute to the child’s mother and her courageous qualities soon evolves into a sad and self-centered drone of anger and resentment. Millay’s use of metaphors and clever word associations in Millay’s poem get across to the reader the intricate emotional attachments of the child to its mother and the manner in which the child valued its mother.