" I thought you were my victory /though you cut me like a knife" (Stevenson 1-2). The opening lines of Anne Stevenson's poem The Victory set a tone of conflict. This poem, at its surface, expresses a mother's thoughts
on giving birth to a son. Stevenson describes the mixed feelings many mothers have upon the delivery of their first born. The final release from pregnancy and birthing pains, coupled with the excitement of bringing a live creature into this world, at first seem a victory to
the new parent. The author goes on to confute the event as a victory. Using words such as "antagonist" (5), "bruise" (6), and "scary"(13), she shows the darker side of childbirth. The mother has felt her own life's blood flowing that a stranger might live "The stains of your
glory bled from my veins." (6-8). That she sees her own child as a stranger is evident in lines nine and ten, where the child is described as a "blind thing" (9) with "blank insect eyes"(10).
The mother portrays her baby as a bug, not even human. In the last section of the poem, two questions are asked, attesting to the mother's
internal conflict. "Why do I have to love you?/ How have you won?" (15-16). These unanswerable queries are some of the fundamental questions of our human existence.
Below the topmost layer of meaning in The Victory, is an
underlying theme that any parent or guardian will easily relate to. Children are born out of the great pain their mothers endure. They are helpless in one sense, yet they command the care of their parents. Stevenson describes the intrinsic helplessness of infants with the words "Blind"(9) and "Hungry"(14). Yet, this poem does not refer to new born babes alone. Birthing pains do not...