A man ambushed a stone. Caught it. Made it a prisoner.
Put it in a dark room and stood guard over it for the
rest of his life.

His mother asked why.

He said, because it’s held captive, because it is

Look, the stone is asleep, she said, it does not know
whether it’s in a garden or not. Eternity and the stone
are mother and daughter; it is you who are getting old.
The stone is only sleeping.

But I caught it, mother, it is mine by conquest, he said.

A stone is nobody’s, not even its own. It is you who are
conquered; you are minding the prisoner, which is yourself,
because you are afraid to go out, she said.

Yes yes, I am afraid, because you have never loved me,
he said.

Which is true, because you have always been to me as
the stone is to you, she said.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Russell Edson's poem A Stone Is Nobody’s


  1. Alicia says:

    I still don’t get this poem.And my English teacher wants us to do an assignment in which we establish a controlling idea about lessons learned.And we’re supposed to apply it to both “A Stone is Nobody’s” and an excerpt from When Heaven and Earth Changed Places.I need to understand this stupid poem to make a controlling idea.Please help,this is due tomorrow!

  2. Alicia says:

    Wait,how did the mother let her son capture her?I thought all he cared about was that stupid rock.

  3. Barbara Litt says:

    So this poem was on the Regents. In what is a hopefully erudite English department, nobody had ever read the poem. We weren’t even sure it was a poem. Certainly, it is a parable. The significance lies in the last line, “Which is true, because you have always been to me as the stone is to you…” He never belonged to his mother?

  4. ea says:

    Wow, I am impressed that this was on the Regents. Would that be the New York State Regents because the last I heard, only New York and Ca. had them and boy, I can tell. This poem reminds me a lot of some of Stephen Crane’s poems.

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