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The Couriers Analysis

Author: poem of Sylvia Plath Type: poem Views: 9

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The word of a snail on the plate of a leaf?

It is not mine. Do not accept it.

Acetic acid in a sealed tin?

Do not accept it. It is not genuine.

A ring of gold with the sun in it?

Lies. Lies and a grief.

Frost on a leaf, the immaculate

Cauldron, talking and crackling

All to itself on the top of each

Of nine black Alps.

A disturbance in mirrors,

The sea shattering its grey one ----

Love, love, my season.


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

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The previous didn\'t post 100% correctly. What I meant about the line \"A disturbance in mirrors\" (the webpage didn\'t properly interpret how I wrote 3 words all conjoined by slashes without spaces, it merely wrote \"x\") is this. This is how the sentence should read:
\"Without digressing/segueing on what all of that is about, suffice it to say that this line, \"a disturbance in mirrors\", is about reality not being properly reflected / illuminated / represented.\"
-William B. Noel

| Posted on 2012-08-28 | by a guest

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I\'ve been a big fan of Plath\'s for over 20 years. I wrote multiple papers on her in high school and as a college undergrad, read \"The Bell Jar\" five times, and many of her poems far, far more times than that. Not as much a fan as I used to be. But anyway, I just posted a quote from this on facebook and wanted to see what online analyses existed. The first few links offered little, in my opinion. So I would like to offer the following.
A lot of people, in their infancy of understanding of Plath, always read her suicide and her relationship with Ted Hughes into her poems. Surely, those things come up. But Plath was much more than some \"depressed genius\". She was, in addition to being a feminist, also a postmodernist - as many strains of that era/movement permeate her work - as well as other things.
Where, exactly, \"The Couriers\" stands within the Plath canon, I can\'t really tell. I don\'t 100% have a handle on the poem, either. This is what I get from it, though.
The first 3 couplets show particular things which, as she plainly states, are highly unlikely, oxymoronic or just impossible. Those things are about deception and artifice. \"Lies. Lies and a grief.\", she says.
The 4th-6th couplets introduce the workings of nature, \"frost on a leaf\", for example, and the workings of nature (\"the immaculate cauldron\"). I have never understood the \"nine black Alps\" reference, so an understanding of that would re-inform my understanding of the poem and a re-synthesis of my interpretation would have to occur. But that doesn\'t mean that I\'m not on the right path with this.
In earlier academic criticism/explanation of Plath, there was either a collection of criticism/essays on her, or at least one article, that was entitled \"A Disturbance in Mirrors\". Without digressing/segueing on what all of that is about, suffice it to say that this line, \"a disturbance in mirrors\", is about reality not being properly x This echoes the earlier line \"Lies. Lies and a grief\".
After \"a disturbance in mirrors\", she writes \"the sea shattering its grey one\". I think she means that the sea is shattering its own grey mirror, because the sea, in fact, is not grey. It can sometimes be represnted as such, but the sea, in addition to being its own shades of blue/green/grey, can also be the color, or at least appear to be the color, of anything it is reflecting. It is anything but grey. To call the sea \"grey\" would be an insult, or a misrepresentation at the least. So, the sea, being more colorful than that, shatters that inferior reality.
She concludes \"Love, love, my season.\"
Plath goes through illustrating lies, to illustrating nature\'s cauldron shattering through artifice to show its beauty, ending in love. This is a poem about liberation, about embracing nature and truth.
A deeper, more verbose and academic interpretation could easily be written, but from the few I\'ve read so far, none of them have offered this interpretation, which I feel is valid. The emotions underlying these allusions could certainly be explored more deeply than I have done. I was just trying to give the general \"gist\" of the poem.
-William B. Noel

| Posted on 2012-08-28 | by a guest

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