Child by Sylvia Plath

How many poets does it take to change a light bulb?
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Child by Sylvia Plath

Post by pseud » Mon Nov 13, 2006 1:53 am


Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing.
I want to fill it with color and ducks,
The zoo of the new

Whose names you meditate ---
April snowdrop, Indian pipe,

Stalk without wrinkle,
Pool in which images
Should be grand and classical

Not this troublous
Wringing of hands, this dark
Ceiling without a star.

Sylvia Plath

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Post by Charles » Sun Dec 10, 2006 9:59 pm

Great Poem, Plath is someone I haven't explored a great deal.

Interesting to compare it to "You're":

Clownlike, happiest on your hands,
Feet to the stars, and moon-skulled,
Gilled like a fish. A common-sense
Thumbs-down on the dodo's mode.
Wrapped up in yourself like a spool,
Trawling your dark, as owls do.
Mute as a turnip from the Fourth
Of July to All Fools' Day,
O high-riser, my little loaf.

Vague as fog and looked for like mail.
Farther off than Australia.
Bent-backed Atlas, our traveled prawn.
Snug as a bud and at home
Like a sprat in a pickle jug.
A creel of eels, all ripples.
Jumpy as a Mexican bean.
Right, like a well-done sum.
A clean slate, with your own face on.


Written about the same child you think?

"You're" is so fruity and optimistic, but "Child" is a tragic poem, especially the ominous reflection that "Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing." The rest of that verse echos "You're"'s sentiments, but from there the whole thing tails off into a sad reflection of the poet's own depressive state. Terrifically moving contrast, got a real eye-dampener with that last stanza.

Post-natal depression springs to mind, though I recall that Plath killed herself, so it might be deeper than that.
Last edited by Charles on Sun Dec 10, 2006 10:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Charles » Sun Dec 10, 2006 10:09 pm

*Some wiking later*

Ah, she has bi-polar disorder (possibly). :( My mother has that, be interesting to ask her view on it. Must be hard to love a new-born while suffering from depression, or at least a strange experience- I do get the sense from "Child" that parental love is still very strong in the midst of her pain.

And Jeez, the more I think about that second line, the more dark and haunting it seems:
"I want to fill it with color and ducks"
Has shades of madness to it, she seems to desperately want to protect her child from the blackness she sees in the world. Though maybe I am reading too much pessimism into it - what do you think?

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Post by benjywenjy » Mon Jan 08, 2007 1:08 am

I really like Sylvia plath, such an interesting charachter. so talented yet deeply unhappy. I think in most of her writing her mental state comes out especially her writing on pain and suicide.

the writing was on the wall Ted...

heres a favourite

Lady Lazarus

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it-----

A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot

A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.

Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?-----

Yes, yes Herr Professor
It is I.
Can you deny

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.

Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me

And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.

This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.

What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see

Them unwrap me hand and foot-----
The big strip tease.
Gentlemen, ladies

These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone, I may be Japanese,

Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.

The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut

As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I've a call.

It's easy enough to do it in a cell.
It's easy enough to do it and stay put.
It's the theatrical

Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:

'A miracle!'
That knocks me out.
There is a charge.

For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart-----
It really goes.

And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood

Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.

I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby

That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

Ash, ash--
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there-----

A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.

Herr God, Herr Lucifer

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

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