At ten AM the young housewife
moves about in negligee behind
the wooden walls of her husband’s house.
I pass solitary in my car.

Then again she comes to the curb
to call the ice-man, fish-man, and stands
shy, uncorseted, tucking in
stray ends of hair, and I compare her
to a fallen leaf.

The noiseless wheels of my car
rush with a crackling sound over
dried leaves as I bow and pass smiling.

Analysis, meaning and summary of William Carlos Williams's poem The Young Housewife


  1. Ashley says:

    This poem is about loneliness, of both the young woman and her observer. It is about isolation. It is about the people in the world longing for contact, real and significant contact, with each other, who are nonetheless separated by the edifice of society.

  2. Markus says:

    Does anyone see premeditated murder as the topic of this poem? This woman is behind wooden walls so the narrator cannot see her, yet somehow he knows that she’s there. I think this implies that he’s been watching her for a while. And the next stanza seems to justify my thoughts. “Then AGAIN she comes to the curb…” The narrator knows that this is her daily routine. He then compares her to a fallen leaf (leaves mainly falling when they’re dead), so when he runs over the dried leaves with his car, he is imagining what it would be like to kill her. That smile and nod then totally screams creeper.

  3. fatma dashti says:

    William Carlos Williams uses very specific images in “The Young Housewife” to reveal not merely a particular circumstance or event, but to also suggest underlying themes and ideas of his subject matter. For example, he gives to the reader various real and imagined images, such her moving about in negligee behind closed doors, or her going about her daily affairs, that are at once very seductive and suggestive of ideas that supercede their appearances. These images especially accentuate the young housewife’s naturalness and beauty. However, they are quickly contrasted by a comparison drawn by Williams of the young lady to a fallen leaf.

  4. Amalia P says:

    I didnt understand this peom but as i read the peom over again for the second time i understood the meaning of this peom…it talks about how a young housewife becomes a young girl with a broken spirit and an old soul…captive in her husband house for she uis not able to call it her own….great peom

  5. Lee says:

    I want to know what the poet want to say in third stanza..

  6. Kristine says:

    The Young Housewife is an easy to read poem, and I really enjoyed reading it. I think of a young woman that is empowered by her husband when I read this poem. This woman is frail and unkempt because she is stuck in a house that she does not call her own because it is called in the poem her husband’s home. She is compared to a leaf that is dried, and when I think of a leaf that is dried up I feel she may look old and weak from her duties as a housewife. She is allowed to come out of the house only to call on the duties that pertain to the home.

  7. Brent says:

    While I agree it is a beautiful poem, and it may be easy to read, it is a very complex read. One must look at the text more deeply to both see the true meaning and the deeper meaning. The poems implications include that of boundaries and and to an extent the breaking of a young woman, by her husband, trying to hold her if not against her will, but by breaking her spirit.

  8. Nikki says:

    This poem is very easy to understand and its a beautiful poem. i really enjoyed it.

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