Sample Literature Essays on Country Wife by Dana Gioia

  1. Word explication of the Poem “ The Country Wife”

            Dana Gioia is the narrator in the poem “The Country Wife”. A country wife means a person that is caring, generous and submissive. The loss of such a person is intolerable. In the first line of the poem the narrator says that his wife (she) “makes her way through the dark trees”. This means that the wife is departing from the narrator. The ‘dark trees’ symbolize death. Darkness means without hope since a person seldom sees their destination or where they are coming from.  Furthermore, walking through the dark trees also indicates solitude and isolation. The country wife also goes further to the lake to be alone.  The narrator has totally lost his wife and has no hope of her coming back. The third line of the poem “Following their voices in the breeze” affirms the fact that the wife has actually departed to the next world. The inclusion of the pronoun “their” illustrates that several other persons have also departed through the same route. The voices in the breeze are either the voices of the ghosts or the spirits of the dead persons.  The country wife is, therefore, attracted by these voices and trails them through the dark trees to their resting place, which is the lake.

            The only thing that is visible for the country wife is the stars. This clearly confirms the death of the country wife since in the lake; the only visible thing is the horizon and the skies. Besides the voices that led her to the sea, the only companion is the stars from a distance.  Her vision is also limited since she cannot see beyond the stars. Besides death, there is nothing else that can limit a person from achieving their goals or dreams in life. Therefore, it implies the country wife may have the desire to see beyond the distant stars, but death or agony would not allow.  Furthermore, the stars are very far away that they are unable to light her way through the darkness. In other words, even the slightest glimpse of hope that had remained is helpless in this situation. The country hoped that the distant starts would at least lighten up her path but that is not the case.  She is indeed experiencing total darkness.  During the night as illustrated in the first sentence of the second stanza, the night is well demonstrated in the lake. It implies that the wife has already come into terms or rather acknowledged her fate. The stars have ceased from glowing and sparkling and instead turned into water, meaning they have ceased from performing their role. Furthermore, the winds are no longer blowing implying that everything is now silent.  It is as though nature understands her situation and respects her wish.  Therefore, she is no longer in the position of fighting or struggling but to acknowledge the prevailing situation.  She has arrived in her final resting place and does not have any other alternatives but to accept her fate.

  1. Effect of all the repetition in the poem

            In this poem, the repetition in each stanza is meant to immerse the reader into the poem to understand the message conveyed by the poet. Indeed, the repetition produces a deeper aspect of emphasis, clarity as well as emotional effect. For example in the first stanza, the repetition “she makes her way through the dark trees” is meant to put more emphasis that the country wife has already departed. I like the way the poet uses the repetition in making such clarity.


Work Cited

Gioia, Dana. The Country Wife. Poetry Foundation (1983). Retrieved from: