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Full Fathom Five Analysis

Author: Poetry of Sylvia Plath Type: Poetry Views: 960

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The Collected Poems1958Old man, you surface seldom.

Then you come in with the tide's coming

When seas wash cold, foam-Capped: white hair, white beard, far-flung,

A dragnet, rising, falling, as waves

Crest and trough. Miles longExtend the radial sheaves

Of your spread hair, in which wrinkling skeins

Knotted, caught, survivesThe old myth of orgins

Unimaginable. You float near

As kneeled ice-mountainsOf the north, to be steered clear

Of, not fathomed. All obscurity

Starts with a danger:Your dangers are many. I

Cannot look much but your form suffers

Some strange injuryAnd seems to die: so vapors

Ravel to clearness on the dawn sea.

The muddy rumorsOf your burial move me

To half-believe: your reappearance

Proves rumors shallow,For the archaic trenched lines

Of your grained face shed time in runnels:

Ages beat like rainsOn the unbeaten channels

Of the ocean. Such sage humor and

Durance are whirlpoolsTo make away with the ground-

Work of the earth and the sky's ridgepole.

Waist down, you may windOne labyrinthine tangle

To root deep among knuckles, shinbones,

Skulls. Inscrutable,Below shoulders not once

Seen by any man who kept his head,

You defy questions;You defy godhood.

I walk dry on your kingdom's border

Exiled to no good.Your shelled bed I remember.

Father, this thick air is murderous.

I would breathe water.


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

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When reading the poem and linking it back to Shakespeare\'s passage, it\'s important to realize that five fathoms is merely thirty feet. In the original context of the passage, Ariel is singing to Ferdinand, who is proven to be an excellent swimmer, having swum unaided through the tempest in Act 1 Scene 1 from the shipwreck to the island. Considering his skill, it is expected that Ferdinand would be able to dive that far and see his father\'s corpse on the seabed. Therefore, both the passage and Plath\'s poem aren\'t about the inconquerable distance between them and their respective fathers, but how near their fathers remain to their lives, despite being dead, and how it is possible for them, as children, to go and be in the presence of their deceased fathers.

| Posted on 2011-02-07 | by a guest

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The obvious use of the poem "Full Fathom Five" in Shakespear's The Tempest is used. In the tempest, the dead father is drowned, but in Plath she walks on dry land but wants to "breath water" in other words, join him in death.
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that does fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! Now I hear them – Ding-dong, bell.

| Posted on 2009-03-07 | by a guest

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The poem Full Fathom Five by Sylvia Plath was written about her father and her experience and beliefs about her father. Sylvia Plath’s father died when she was only eight years old and she grew up with bi-polar disorder. She nearly succeeded in killing herself by swallowing sleeping pills in her junior year at college. In 1963, Sylvia Plath succeeded in killing herself with cooking gas at the age of 30. Her life story appears very much in this poem and shows deep insight into the true meaning of the poem. The main themes in this poem are the themes of suicide and the death of her father.
To begin analysis of this poem you really have to first analyze the title. “Full Fathom Five” The first thing that you notice of this title is the alliteration and the repetition of the “F” sound. “Full Fathom Five” has two meanings to it. A fathom can be a measurement in the sea and can also mean to penetrate to the meaning or nature of something or to comprehend. In the days before scuba gear, five fathoms (30 feet) deep was, impossibly, irretrievably and lost. Therefore Plath could be saying this because her father is dead. He cannot be brought back. The other meaning is that something is completely sunken into despair. Something is so sad that it is hard to imagine. The title to this poem is very important because it shows right of the bat Plath’s feelings towards her father.
The major theme of this poem is the death of Sylvia Plath’s father. Through out the poem she discuses her relationship with her father and how his death has effected her life. From the very first line, “Old man, you surface seldom.” (1). Plath is explaining that her father was never around and couldn’t have been around because of his death. This can show that even when he was alive he didn’t spend much time with his daughter. She describes her father in the next few lines and uses the metaphor of the sea to show us a picture of him through her eyes. “When seas wash cold, foam- Capped: white hair, white beard, far-flung, A dragnet, rising, falling, as waves Crest and trough.” (3-5). This quote is her description of her father. Plath shows him as an old man with white hair and a white beard. He is explained in a way to look like Poseidon the god of the sea. She explains him as a powerful and feared man. “Your dangers are many” (16). This line along with others in the poem suggests that Plath did not have a good relationship with her father. Most fathers are easily spoken to and are not feared by their children. But as Plath explains her father the idea that he was powerful and preoccupied is put into ones mind. Therefore after his death it is assumed that this is the image that Plath carries around of her father and therefore begins to loath him and blames him about certain things in her life.
Another major theme in this poem is that of Plath’s suicidal tendencies. The tone of this poem is one of solitude and death. She speaks with a very negative connotation and mentions the words death and die in many places in the poem. “To half believe: your reappearance Proves rumors shallow” (23-24). This quote shows that Plath is thinking of her father when she is thinking about suicide. It shows that the only time that he reappears in her life is when she is upset and contemplating suicide.

| Posted on 2005-08-28 | by Approved Guest

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