Plath Research Essay Research Paper BiblioghraphyBlue light

Plath Research Essay, Research Paper


Blue light clear atoms

Ariel, published by Harper & Row, 1966

The Bell Jar (1963)

Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath was born in Boston in

1932. She grew up in a comfortably

middle-class style and attended

Smith College. She suffered a

breakdown at the end of her junior

year of college, but recovered well

enough to return and excel during

her senior year, receiving various

prizes and graduating summa cum

laude. In 1955, having been awarded

a Fulbright scholarship, she began

two years at Cambridge University.

There she met and married the

British poet Ted Hughes and settled in England, bearing two

children. Her first book of poems, The Colossus (1960),

demonstrated her precocious talent, but was far more

conventional than the work that followed. Having studied with

Robert Lowell in 1959 and been influenced by the “confessional”

style of his collection Life Studies, she embarked on the new

work that made her posthumous reputation as a major poet. A

terrifying record of her encroaching mental illness, the poems

that were collected after her suicide (at age 31) in 1963 in the

volumes Ariel, Crossing the Water, and Winter Trees are

graphically macabre, hallucinatory in their imagery, but full of

ironic wit, technical brilliance, and tremendous emotional power.

Her Selected Poems were published by Ted Hughes in 1985.

Morning Song

Sylvia Plath

Love set you going like a fat gold watch.

The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry

Took its place among the elements.

Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.

In a drafty museum, your nakedness

Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.

I’m no more your mother

Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow

Effacement at the wind’s hand.

All night your moth-breath

Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:

A far sea moves in my ear.

One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral

In my Victorian nightgown.

Your mouth opens clean as a cat’s. The window square

Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try

Your handful of notes;

The clear vowels rise like balloons.

Nick and the Candlestick

by Sylvia Plath

I am a miner. The light burns blue.

Waxy stalactites

Drip and thicken, tears

The earthen womb

Exudes from its dead boredom.

Black bat airs

Wrap me, raggy shawls,

Cold homicides.

They weld to me like plums.

Old cave of calcium

Icicles, old echoer.

Even the newts are white,

Those holy Joes.

And the fish, the fish

Christ! They are panes of ice,

A vice of knives,

A piranha

Religion, drinking

Its first communion out of my live toes.

The candle

Gulps and recovers its small altitude,

Its yellows hearten.

O love, how did you get here?

O embryo

Remembering, even in sleep,

Your crossed position.

The blood blooms clean

In you, ruby.

The pain

You wake to is not yours.

Love, love,

I have hung our cave with roses.

With soft rugs

The last of Victoriana.

Let the stars

Plummet to their dark address,

Let the mercuric

Atoms that cripple drip

Into the terrible well,

You are the one

Solid the spaces lean on, envious.

You are the baby in the barn.

By Candlelight

This is winter, this is night, small love —

A sort of black horsehair,

A rough, dumb country stuff

Steeled with the sheen

Of what green stars can make it to our gate.

I hold you in my arm.

It is very late.

The dull bells tongue the hour.

The mirror floats us at one candle power.

This is the fluid in which we meet each other,

This haloey radiance that seems to breathe

And lets our shadows wither

Only to blow

Them huge again, violent giants on the wall.

One match scratch makes you real.

At first the candle will not bloom at all —

It snuffs its bud to almost nothing, to a dull blue dud.

I hold my breath until you creak to life,

Balled hedgehog,

Small and cross. The yellow knife

Grows tall. You clutch your bars.

My singing makes you roar.

I rock you like a boat

Across the Indian carpet, the cold floor,

While the brass man

Kneels, back bent as best he can

Hefting his white pillar with the light

That keeps the sky at bay,

The sack of black! It is everywhere, tight, tight!

He is all yours, the little brassy Atlas —

Poor heirloom, all you have

At his heels a pile of five brass cannonballs,

No child, no wife.

Five balls! Five bright brass balls!

To juggle with, my love when the sky falls.


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 Fool’s Day,

O high-riser, my little loaf.

Vague as fog and looked for like mail.

Farther off than Australia.

Bent-backed Atlas, our travelled 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.

Mary’s Song

The Sunday lamb cracks in its fat.

The fat

Sacrifices its opacity….

A window, holy gold.

The fire makes it precious,

The same fire

Melting the tallow heretics,

Ousting the Jews.

Their thick palls float

Over the cicatrix of Poland, burnt-out


They do not die.

Grey birds obsess my heart,

Mouth-ash, ash of eye.

They settle. On the high


That emptied one man into space

The ovens glowed like heavens, incandescent.

It is a heart,

This holocaust I walk in,

O golden child the world will kill and eat.


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