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The Disquieting Muses Analysis

Author: Poetry of Sylvia Plath Type: Poetry Views: 618

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The Collected Poems1957Mother, mother, what ill-bred aunt

Or what disfigured and unsightly

Cousin did you so unwisely keep

Unasked to my christening, that she

Sent these ladies in her stead

With heads like darning-eggs to nod

And nod and nod at foot and head

And at the left side of my crib?Mother, who made to order stories

Of Mixie Blackshort the heroic bear,

Mother, whose witches always, always

Got baked into gingerbread, I wonder

Whether you saw them, whether you said

Words to rid me of those three ladies

Nodding by night around my bed,

Mouthless, eyeless, with stitched bald head.In the hurricane, when father's twelve

Study windows bellied in

Like bubbles about to break, you fed

My brother and me cookies and Ovaltine

And helped the two of us to choir:

'Thor is angry; boom boom boom!

Thor is angry: we don't care!'

But those ladies broke the panes.When on tiptoe the schoolgirls danced,

Blinking flashlights like fireflies

And singing the glowworm song, I could

Not lift a foot in the twinkle-dress

But, heavy-footed, stood aside

In the shadow cast by my dismal-headed

Godmothers, and you cried and cried:

And the shadow stretched, the lights went out.Mother, you sent me to piano lessons

And praised my arabesques and trills

Although each teacher found my touch

Oddly wooden in spite of scales

And the hours of practicing, my ear

Tone-deaf and yes, unteachable.

I learned, I learned, I learned elsewhere,

From muses unhired by you, dear mother.I woke one day to see you, mother,

Floating above me in bluest air

On a green balloon bright with a million

Flowers and bluebirds that never were

Never, never, found anywhere.

But the little planet bobbed away

Like a soap-bubble as you called: Come here!

And I faced my traveling companions.Day now, night now, at head, side, feet,

They stand their vigil in gowns of stone,

Faces blank as the day I was born.

Their shadows long in the setting sun

That never brightens or goes down.

And this is the kingdom you bore me to,

Mother, mother. But no frown of mine

Will betray the company I keep.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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This poem always struck fear in my heart. Apparently I have silent, bald muses also who were highly critical of a child''s efforts, in contrast to a parent who would extravagantly praise every act until it had no meaning. "You call it wonderful, but you have no standards." I could not follow my mother into Happyland -- "Mustn't say anything bad about anybody.". "Always look on the bright side."
Habitually paralyzed by self-doubt and lack of decent guidance, this is a story of self-doubt, unhappiness, and depression.

| Posted on 2017-07-25 | by a guest

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The three figures whom Plath calls her muses which are "unhired" by her mother are the figure-heads of her feelings of inspiration, fear and depression in life. She starts out the poem at her childhood, the feelings which she calls her godmothers are there with her from the beginning. This is a reference to the blessings "Sleeping Beauty" receives from the fairies and the curse from the 13th fairy. Her depiction of these feelings may seem intense at first sight but when you think more about it many people are driven by these raw feelings and molded by them to adulthood just as herself. She has a childhood which consists of both good and bad memories and all are under supervision of the godmothers which she says are mouthless, eyeless, and with a stitched bald-head further referring them to be her ideas which are constantly improving/ decaying with experience and age thus stitched bald headed (constantly ready for a surgery;injection of knowledge).Plath says at her fathers twelve meaning his death there were storms which took her father away and her indifference at the time suggesting that he was away from them when it happened. After losing him she griefs when all the other children dance and sing. She mentions the piano lessons she was sent by her mother and that she was terrible at playing it according to her teachers. She states that she learned something different (writing) from other teachers which weren't hired by her mother. As Plath experiences her mothers death with birds and flowers at her funeral not found anywhere else she turned back to the muses which haunted her as a child. She depicts them now as always alert, awake and in gowns signifying her mourning over her loss of her parents. Sun never setting normally would have a positive idea attached to it but in Plath's case it symbolizes her sleeplessness due to her "godmothers" and her state being at a constant as the son never brightens or goes down. She contemplates about life and is both sad because of the loses and angry at her mother for her past mistakes as not raising her children properly.

| Posted on 2017-01-18 | by a guest

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Throughout the poem, Plath depends on visual and auditory imagery in order to recreate her childhood experience in a way that readers can be able to share her vision. This is demonstarted with the ladies with "heads like darning-eggs" that cobsistently nod and nod besides her.

| Posted on 2016-06-17 | by a guest

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The poem is ekphrastic poetry, meaning it is based on a piece of art, this poem's inspiration being "The Disquieting Muses" by Giorgio de Chirico. You can tell based on the connotations of the title that the poem is about the source of discomfort in the speaker's life. And, if you know anything about Sylvia Plath, you should know that she was depressed. The three muses in the poem may be a visual representation of depression. Also, it is evident that the tone is revealing that her mother is the inspiration for her depression. The speaker is blaming her mother, who is lost in her own world, for letting dark thoughts come to her mind i.e. she is blaming her mother for her depression

| Posted on 2014-02-13 | by a guest

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The title gives away that the three women who she is so displeased with are indeed merely muses, figments of imagination and fragments of inspiration. But perhaps, if these muses were so powerful as to be able to break windows as she claimed they had then perhaps she was not seeing muses but perhaps she was able to see ghosts instead, or spirits rather. The portion in which she saw her mother floating on the green balloon amidst many flowers may have been indicative of her mother's death and ascension into this gathering of spirits within the house. On second thought, perhaps those three muses were merely dillusions of fear, perhaps of the dark? If she blamed them for the storm and always saw them by her side at night then perhaps it was a fear that caused it. She said they were dancing with flashlights. The flashlights could represent the thunder and if they were twirling with great speed perhaps that represented the violent wind that broke the windows. She learned to play piano because of these muses as well, that is interesting, perhaps they were less like terrors than she made them out to be. -Kenji Light

| Posted on 2005-11-29 | by Approved Guest

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