Eighteenth-Century Medical Illustration: The Infant in Its Little Room

Townsend, Ann

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Squier, Harriet
  • Date of entry: Nov-23-1997
  • Last revised: Aug-17-2006


A pregnant woman describes the harmony she feels with the fetus inside her during her pregnancy. She thinks of this fetus as a child already separate from her but in sympathy with her. She compares her feelings with an eighteenth century illustration of a pregnant uterus with a little man inside. She finds many similarities with this depiction.


Many of us look at eighteenth century illustrations of the pregnant uterus, with their seemingly naïve depictions of fully formed adult-appearing fetuses, and are amused; we might feel superior, with our more advanced scientific knowledge. The narrator of this poem reminds us, however, that these depictions may describe something more universal--the mother’s sense that the child within already has its own identity, moving to rhythms separate from and in harmony with the mother’s own experiences. This poem would be a good contrast with others depicting more conflicted views of pregnancy.

Primary Source

North American Review


Univ. of Northern Iowa

Place Published

Cedar Falls, Iowa