Sunday, April 14, 2013

Analysis of "Child" by Sylvia Plath

Original poem reprinted online here: "Child" by Sylvia Plath
Originally read: January 18, 2013
More information about the Poet: Sylvia Plath

This poem is unlike any poems I know of Sylvia Plath. Daddy, Blackberrying, Ariel tend to have a dark (sometimes hyperbolic) overtone filled with personal emotion (Daddy), dark situations (Blackberrying), and/or viscera (Ariel).  All these aspects in her poems, I won't necessarily say resonate, but rather defines her work for me in my mind -- kind of an association (Sylvia Plath = list above).

When I came across this poem in my daily reads, I thought hmm interesting -- I'm pretty sure Sylvia will fall back on one of those three techniques.

The beginning of the poem starts out so innocent, maybe a little overboard from both the perspective of the speaker and the subject:, "Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing."  Noticing the line after rereading this, there's something awkward with the construction -- the usage "the" -- that the speaker specifically focuses on the eye of the subject. The speaker then proceeds to project objects of "color" and "ducks" into the subjects vision.

I remember making a mistake in printing out a poem where there was an added word when there shouldn't be.  I made sure this time and double checked the line break to stanza break after "new" and once again the construction of "The zoo of the new" comes off a bit awkward however, the awkwardness goes brings a sense of innocent but off (not flat out crazy or hyperbole).  There's something in the language which is held back as if the speaker is holding back.

Further in the poem, the speaker projects names that the child is thinking of -- or rather wants the child to think; however, the verb "meditate" is, again, another one of those offbeat words that fit, but not quite.  The line break to stanza break at "Little / Stalk" changes the adj/noun combination format in stanza two to something more in depth -- more of a description on how  the name should be, "grand and classical."  The speaker is furthering him/herself into the what the child should see, feel, think, and anlalyze.

Past me wrote this for the last stanza:

"The last stanza is the hard turn now that judgement is introduced.  The speaker... [I don't know what I wanted to do with this]. The last image is a nice rendition of maybe a lack of imagination -- or  worry or a not so great mindset."

Fear, how about that?  How about if the speaker recognizes what he or she is trying to do -- or worse, project that the child will become the speaker and the  "dark" mentioned in the second line of the last stanza is explicitly placed so the focus i there; however, the speaker wants to keep going with the tercets or maybe the speaker has to.

The last line then becomes devastating if you see it from a parent perspective, "Ceiling without a star." More of without a light, or star could refer to the speaker meaning (however, no mention of light refers back to the speaker).   It's the idea of putting everything into a child -- energy, hope, wishes, innocence, and then, suddenly, the child, no matter how hard the speaker tries, gravitates to a darkness (baggage perhaps) that is too overwhelming.


  1. Thanks! Really helped me understand it...

  2. Your blog is fascinating and luminous. Thank you so much for sharing your skill and knowledge.