Nissim’s Poem A Woman Observed Summary and Critical Appreciation

Nissim’s Poem, A Woman Observed, Summary and Critical Appreciation

Introduction to the Poem:

Nissim’s Poem A Woman Observed Summary and Critical Appreciation: The poem entitled A Woman Observed depicts the prudish nature of a woman. It first appeared in Ezekiel’s fourth volume of poems The Exact Name which was published in 1965. This poem presents different responses of different people about the nudity of women. The orthodox community dislikes the open display of women’s nudity. They think that the open display of women’s nudity spoils the purity of women.

They also think that by displaying the body of a woman without clothes, the women are humiliated. Particularly in India this kind of display is against our culture and tradition. In India the women are the subject of adoration and respect. But in Western countries, such kind of nudity is very common. In these countries, the people do not oppose such open display of nudity. The people of western culture and civilization say that they are living in modern times and the nude paintings are one of the important and recognised aspects of modernity.

Nissim’s Poem A Woman Observed Summary and Critical Appreciation Summary of the Poem:

The speaker describes a pregnant woman whom he observed in an art gallery. Once, the speaker came across a pregnant woman who visited an art gallery due to her excessive fondness of pictures and paintings. Different kinds of pictures were hung on the wall for the view of the art lovers. Because of being an art lover, she began to observe the paintings. All of a sudden her eyes fell on some paintings of nude women. The pregnant woman was a prude who was greatly displeased at the sight of the nudity of the women painted in those pictures.

It seemed as if the pregnant woman did not like this open display of the nude body of the women. The poet also reacted in the same way. He was also ashamed to see this sort of nudity exhibited in the paintings. But another time he explained it in a very reasonable sense. He said that there was nothing bad in displaying this sort of nudity in the paintings because the nudity is natural. He was of the opinion that the pregnant woman should have felt no dislike at all for the exhibition of feminine nakedness because it was nakedness and sexuality in bed which resulted in her pregnancy. Perhaps the woman did not ponder over the fact that the child in her womb would come in this world as a result of sexual intercourse with her husband and during her sexual intercourse she was in the state of nakedness.

In the beginning the pregnant woman showed her great disliking for the nude scenes displayed in the paintings, but these nude scenes filled her with an erotic sense. She felt highly excited to see the nude sights. She could not conceal her sexual excitement. When she was departing from the art gallery, her movement indicated sexual appeal. It seemed as if she was completely excited with sexual desire. She had an extremely desire for making sexual intercourse with man. Her disliking for the nude scenes was only her hypocrisy. The speaker observed that when she was moving out, her body showed great eagerness to come out in its natural state. It was difficult for her to conceal her sexual expressions.

Critical Appreciation of the Poem:


The poem entitled A Woman Observed depicts the sexuality of a pregnant woman whom the speaker observed in an art gallery. This poem appears in the collection of poems entitled The Exact Name, published in 1965. In the poem, the poet presents orthodox and Western attitude towards the nudity and sexual feelings. In India nudity cannot be displayed openly because it is a matter of shyness and ashaming and it is also against chastity of Indian culture, but in Western culture nudity is a very common thing. In Western countries, the women do not hesitate to uncover their breasts and bottoms. They are very bold and frank in expressing their sexual desire.

Thought – Content:

The poet observed a pregnant woman in an art gallery. She was lost in staring at some nude scenes displayed in paintings hanging on the wall for the view of the art lovers. The pregnant woman who was prude, was greatly shocked at sight of the nudity of the women painted in those pictures. She showed her disliking for the nude scenes. The speaker also responded in the same way, but another time he was of the view that the woman should have felt no dislike at all for a display of feminine nakedness. He thought that, having a baby in her womb, she should have realised that it was her nakedness in bed with a man which led to her pregnancy. Indeed she got sexually excited at seeing nude paintings and statues.

Style and Language:

Ezekiel is a great and gifted poetic craftsman. He is an artist who is willing to take pains, to cultivate reticence, to pursue the profession of poetry with a sense of commitment. He has been a kind of law giver to the young poets writing in the Indian English tradition. He is the first Indian poet consistently to Indian readers that craftsmanship is as important to a poem as its subject matter. He has a high conception of poetry which combines both inspiration and painstaking effort. He is a skillful artist who uses apt and suggestive words for his purpose from a rich stock.

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