It is the time when the tired frost of winter begins to give way to the solar prowess of the summer months. Many a poet and writer have used it as a metaphorical device for their works. As a symbol of rebirth, spring can affect a joyous sense of elation. Conversely, no birth or rebirth can occur without first something, person, or epoch dying, disappearing, or withering into desuetude. Modern psychology, in the context of patient and cultural interpretation, has assigned to spring this dichotomous quality of bringing in the new and hastening away the old. The work of Carl Jung is particularly applicable in this instance. His analysis of the mother-maiden archetype comprehended spring as one of the many symbols of this primeval human mental construction.
To this category belongs the goddess, especially the Mother of God, the Virgin, and Sophia [wisdom]…[This] archetype is often associated with things and places standing for fertility and fruitfulness: the cornucopia, a ploughed field, a garden….[Its] evil symbols are the witch, the dragon, the grave, the sarcophagus, deep water, death, nightmares, and bogies. (81-82)
For Williams, the image of the widow, or the aged wife and mother, stresses the cyclical and temporal aspect of the Jungian conception of spring. The “new grass” and the “masses of flowers” remind the narrator of when she lived happily with her now deceased husband. They resurrect memories of having a family and loving one another (Williams 1998). They had once lived happily together. Rather than symbolizing birth and things anew, the widow is troubled by her spouse’s absence. Instead she bemoans the “[red] cherry branches” for “the grief in my heart is stronger than they / for though they were my joy / formerly, today I notice them / and turn away forgetting.” The pain endures. Yet Williams, after underscoring the widow’s sorrows, draws attention to her son who