HomeStoriesPoem A Sindhi Woman by Jon Stallworthy | Explanation and Context

Poem A Sindhi Woman by Jon Stallworthy | Explanation and Context



Barefoot through the bazaar,
And with the same undulant grace
As the cloth blown back from her face,
She glides with a stone jar
High on her head,
And not a ripple in her tread.

Watching her cross erect
Stones, garbage, excrement, and crumbs
Of glass in the Karachi slums,
I, with my stoop, reflect
They stand most straight
Who learn to walk beneath a weight.

Vocabulary Table

here is a vocabulary table for the poem “A Sindhi Woman” by Jon Stallworthy:

Word/Phrase Meaning Context in the Poem
Barefoot Without shoes Describes how the Sindhi woman walks through the bazaar
Bazaar A marketplace or street market The place where the Sindhi woman is walking
Undulant Moving in a wave-like manner Describes the grace of the woman’s movements
Grace Elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action Describes the manner in which the woman moves
Cloth blown back The fabric that covers her face is moved by the wind Adds to the visual imagery of her graceful movement
Glides Moves smoothly and effortlessly Describes her movement through the bazaar
Stone jar A heavy container made of stone The object the woman carries on her head
Ripple A small wave or series of waves Indicates the steadiness of her tread
Tread The manner of walking Refers to how she walks without any disturbance
Erect Upright in position or posture Describes the woman’s posture
Garbage Waste material or unwanted things Part of the challenging environment she navigates
Excrement Waste matter discharged from the body Another element of the harsh conditions
Crumbs of glass Small pieces of broken glass Indicates the dangerous and uncomfortable setting
Karachi The largest city in Pakistan, indicating the setting of the poem Specifies the location of the slums
Slums Heavily populated urban areas characterized by substandard housing Describes the poor area through which the woman walks
Stoop To bend forward and down from the waist Describes the poet’s own posture
Reflect To think deeply or carefully about something The poet’s contemplation inspired by observing the woman
Straight Free from bends, upright Refers to the woman’s posture
Weight The heaviness of something, here both literal and metaphorical The burden the woman carries and its symbolic meaning

This table captures key vocabulary from the poem, helping to elucidate the imagery and themes Stallworthy presents.


Sindhi women embody resilience and grace, deeply rooted in their rich cultural heritage. They are the custodians of ancient traditions, weaving stories of their ancestors into every aspect of their lives. Strength and perseverance define their daily existence, balancing familial duties with community roles. Their vibrant attire and intricate jewelry reflect a celebration of identity and pride in their heritage. Sindhi women are the pillars of their society, nurturing future generations while honoring the past.

Read more about Thematic Analysis Tools to broaden your knowledge of themes.


In the context of Sindhi culture, women play a pivotal role that transcends mere household responsibilities. They are guardians of tradition, preserving the customs and rituals passed down through generations.

Despite facing numerous challenges, Sindhi women exhibit remarkable strength and resilience, often acting as the backbone of their families and communities. Their colorful attire and elaborate jewelry are not just expressions of beauty but symbols of their cultural pride and identity. Through their daily lives, they embody the essence of Sindhi heritage, ensuring that its rich legacy continues to thrive.


First Stanza Explanation

This stanza paints a vivid picture of a Sindhi woman moving gracefully through a bustling marketplace. She walks barefoot, symbolizing her connection to the earth and simplicity. Her movement is described as “undulant grace,” comparing her fluid motion to the gentle sway of cloth blown by the wind.

The stone jar she carries high on her head, without disturbing her poise, highlights her strength and balance. This imagery captures both the elegance and resilience inherent in her daily life, showcasing her ability to navigate her world with both beauty and strength.

Second Stanza Explanation

In this stanza, the focus shifts to the inner world of the Sindhi woman. As she observes the young men engaging in playful activities, she remains calm and introspective. Her humming signifies a connection to her inner thoughts and hopes for the future.

Despite the external distractions, her dreams are firm and resilient, symbolizing an unbreakable spirit. This stanza illustrates her unwavering optimism and determination, which guide her through life’s challenges with a hopeful outlook.

Summer Leonard
Summer Leonard
Summer Leonard writes about students and school life. She shares practical advice and understanding based on her own experiences. Her writing aims to create a supportive community among students, helping them navigate the challenges of academics. Through simple and thoughtful words, she inspires and guides those on the educational journey.

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