Analysis of ‘Metaphors’ by Sylvia Plath

Metaphors

Sylvia Plath who also wrote in the name of Victoria Lucas was born on October 27th 1932 in Boston, Massachusetts. Some of her best known works were the poems “Daddy” and “Lady Lazarus”. However most of her poems were critically acclaimed. Only her initial poems were considered a little juvenile and it had to be because she wrote them when she was still in college. Her novel “The Bell Jar “became very popular and it expresses a sense of isolation and self-destruction and it was all about her personal experiences which was representative of the women in the mid-20th century America. Plath’s influence in literary circles is still strong. A biopic was made on her in 2003.

The poem ‘Metaphors’ was written in March 1959 when Plath thought she had become pregnant. It was published on 20th March in a journal under the title ‘Metaphors for a Pregnant Woman’; it was later shortened as ‘Metaphors’ for publication a year later. A few months after writing this poem she did become pregnant. This poem was included in the first volume of the ‘The Colossus’ published in 1960. The title might seem strange but it seems apt when the lines are read as it is filled with metaphors for a pregnant woman.The poet in the first line says it’s a nine riddle poem and the riddles are in the metaphors and the answer for the all the riddles is one, a pregnant woman.

These metaphors are really extended imagery. A pregnant woman is an elephant and a large bulky house. The pregnant woman is big and she moves slowly like an elephant. It is a house because that is where the baby is resting comfortably. The next imagery is funny as the pregnant woman is compared to a melon walking on tendrils. She is fat and her heavy rounded body is being carried by two small, thin legs.  In the next line she gives more description for the metaphors used in the previous lines. The water melon is a red fruit, the elephant has ivory tusks and the house is made of ‘fine timber’. There is a usage in UK ‘bun in the oven’ meaning that someone is expecting a baby and it must have been that she wanted to convey with the line ‘This loaf’s big with its yeasty rising’. Mother’s womb is compared to a fat purse and money is minted here. The child is the new money and the stomach is holding a precious little one. The pregnant woman is the ‘means’ by which the child comes into this world. Being in the womb is one of the ‘stages’ of child. She then compares herself toa cow and the child is the calf in her. For some pregnant women there is a craving to eat green apples and the poet also had it and she had eaten a bag of them. All through the eight lines she has given an impression that she was happy with the fact that she was pregnant. In the last line she says ‘Boarded the train there’s no getting off.’ This line gives a feel that maybe there is a small sense of regret or resignation to the fate she is pregnant. It was well known fact that she had spoken against child-birth when she in college. So, now that she was pregnant she must have felt a little guilty but resigns to the fact that she was indeed pregnant.

‘Metaphors’ is a nine line poem with no specific rhyme scheme, it is a free verse. As the title suggests it is full of metaphors and this is what makes the poem different, the creative streak of Plath is so evident in this poem.

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Author: Facilitator