A poem for Mother Summary

A Poem for Mother by Robin S Ngangom

A poem for Mother Summary : Robin Singh Ngangom’s “A poem for Mother” appears in the poetry volume: “Words and Silence” (1998).

A poem for Mother Summary

It is the poet’s poignant expression of his love for his mother. It is an autobiographical poem where the poet shows his gratitude for her unconditional love and lifelong toil. The poet also feels regret for his inability to fulfill his son’s responsibility to a mother. He tries to justify that he is still her dear son. He feels grateful for his toiling mother. She works silently for the entire family and always pays attention to their well-being. The poem ends with a sense of repentance for not being able to inherit any valuable quality from his dear mother. He becomes a small man.

A poem for Mother by Robin S Ngangom

Before he starts the poem, the poet pays his tribute to Salvatore Quasimodo, a Sicilian novelist, and a poet.

The Poet’s Childhood

In the poem “A Poem for Mother”, the poet addresses his dear mother Palem Apokpi. He loves his mother so much that it was a hard time for him to leave her ten years ago.

Despite his disliking, he had to leave his home to become self-reliant. Similar to him, most of us encounter the same situation in our lives. Though he did not like his mother probably sent him to be a man.

The poet is now a grown-up man. His mother is not with him. He feels that the distance detaches her from him. As a result, he feels alienated and regretful.

Regret in him

This implies that time has changed, but not his love. The poet tries to justify his love for his mother. He feels regret because of his failure to perform his responsibility as a son. He wants to do it, but he fails.

Therefore, he affirms he has not changed a bit. He mentions he used to be a bashful boy. He stresses he is still the same boy with an insatiable appetite.

He also tells that he is still the same naughty boy who lost his teeth after emptying her larder. As a young boy, he could not resist the temptation of biscuits, sweets, or other food items from the larder.

He used to be not only naughty but also mischievous during his school days. He wanted to romance every girl he liked. His infatuation with the girls caused trouble for his mother. It might mean that he might have done something childish that made his mother feel ashamed.

No matter how naughty and troublesome he used to be, he is still the apple of her eye.

He knows his mother loves him. She wants him to be the best. Therefore, she, like most mothers, gave him wisdom. She tells him that time and money don’t grow on trees. She wanted him to implement them and live a better life.

But it is a failure that he cannot implement such advice. This could suggest his state of living: not enough time or money. Since he cannot follow them, he feels regret. However, this does not mean he has forgotten those life lessons.

He has also abandoned many things. The lines “I abandoned much and left/so little of myself for others/ to remember me.” could mean losing the bond with his village.

His detachment from his home and his people could be because of his career. He isn’t in contact with most of his people. Because of the disengagement, hardly anyone remembers him.

His mother’s personality

Apart from his failure, he feels regret for her selfless dedication. As a devoted wife, mother, and mother-in-law, she works in the house. She works industriously for each member of the family and keeps worrying about them. His mother makes sure everyone in the family is alright.

Aged husband could refer to his aged father and unmarried sons could refer to him or his brothers. Liberated daughters-in-law could suggest the women who are married but don’t do household chores because of their job. They differ from traditional Manipuri women who work at home.

In her selfless service to the family, her smile has disappeared from her face. Wrinkles appear on her face and the “signs of snow” appear on her hair. Snow suggests white hair, which shows the poet’s mother is aging.

Recalling his mother

She wakes up early with the chime of temple bells before dawn and sweeps the floors. After done with them, she takes a bath and cooks for the family. Like other usual days, she returns from the market every dusk with her head heavily loaded with baskets.

This is the daily routine of his mother: waking up early in the morning, taking birth, cooking for the family. Furthermore, she goes to the market and returns home with heavy baskets in the evening.

Understanding the hardship, he poses a question if she toils like this. He wants her to end the lifelong toil and take some rest for herself.

Regret in the poet

The poet Ngangom is feeling sorry for not being able to inherit any of her certain qualitative characteristics or cooking skills. He stands nowhere in front of his mother’s sacrifice and devotion.

He asks for forgiveness for failing to fulfill all her peaceful dreams during her remaining days. As a son, one wants to serve his mother in her old days. But his inability makes him feel like a little man. He has become a mere man with small dreams.

Like him, we have dreams of doing many things for our mother. However, sometimes we cannot achieve them. We get stuck in trivial things to survive.

Similarly, the poet is stuck in his life. He has turned into a small man. This could mean his achievement in his career is no greater than his mother’s greatness, her lifelong toil. Her selfless dedication throughout her life in raising the son and serving her family is indeed greater than the son’s achievement in life.

Structure of A Poem for Mother

The poem “A poem for Mother” has five stanzas. Ngangom has written it in free verse, a poem without rhyme and meter.

The Theme of the Poem

The theme of “A Poem for Mother” is the theme of regret.


Ngangom’s poems like “The Strange Affair of Robin Ngangom” often bear the political unrest and terrorism that his motherland has faced over the years. However, “A poem for Mother” is an autobiographical poem and free from political implications. The beauty of the poem lies in the poignant tone where a son feels regret for his responsibilities toward his dear mother.

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