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A Life Analysis

Author: poem of Sylvia Plath Type: poem Views: 28

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Touch it: it won't shrink like an eyeball,

This egg-shaped bailiwick, clear as a tear.

Here's yesterday, last year ---

Palm-spear and lily distinct as flora in the vast

Windless threadwork of a tapestry.

Flick the glass with your fingernail:

It will ping like a Chinese chime in the slightest air stir

Though nobody in there looks up or bothers to answer.

The inhabitants are light as cork,

Every one of them permanently busy.

At their feet, the sea waves bow in single file.

Never trespassing in bad temper:

Stalling in midair,

Short-reined, pawing like paradeground horses.

Overhead, the clouds sit tasseled and fancy

As Victorian cushions. This family

Of valentine faces might please a collector:

They ring true, like good china.

Elsewhere the landscape is more frank.

The light falls without letup, blindingly.

A woman is dragging her shadow in a circle

About a bald hospital saucer.

It resembles the moon, or a sheet of blank paper

And appears to have suffered a sort of private blitzkrieg.

She lives quietly

With no attachments, like a foetus in a bottle,

The obsolete house, the sea, flattened to a picture

She has one too many dimensions to enter.

Grief and anger, exorcised,

Leave her alone now.

The future is a grey seagull

Tattling in its cat-voice of departure.

Age and terror, like nurses, attend her,

And a drowned man, complaining of the great cold,

Crawls up out of the sea.

Submitted by Venus


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

.: :.

it was written the same year she gave birth to her daughter. theres references of hospitals and nurses....ncy

| Posted on 2011-05-01 | by a guest

.: :.

If you read her biography, you\'ll find that she was fearful of the future and old age. This is why she attempted suicide many times. She was a child prodigy, but she slid into deep depression and even attempted suicide when she got her first B in college. She finally succeeded when she put her head in that oven and behold.. the cookies were ready.
The last stanza implies her fear of the future. \"Grey seagull\" shows her fear for growing old. The drowned man \"complaining of the great cold\" is her, forced to live a life in which she doesn\'t want to live.

| Posted on 2011-04-12 | by a guest

.: :.

this poem reflects her anxieties of life read her biography and this poem will become less ambiguous

| Posted on 2011-03-24 | by a guest

.: :.

I interpret this poem as if she were extrapolating about the lives of a family portrayed in a seaside painting. She is internalizing her own struggles and perhaps projecting them unto the characters. The painting is a mirror of her soul, her demons, her fears, her past, her future, her life.

| Posted on 2010-08-03 | by a guest

.: :.

I think that the last stanza is simply a continuation of the idea that Plath is staring at a framed picture. In the beginning of the poem, she envies the life portrayed in the painting because it is so easily controlled "at their feet the waves bow in single file" and this detached way of living appeals to her - to be able to be content without thinking. However, by the end of the poem the painting takes on a more dolorous tone, and the events portrayed in paint change direction: the man coming out of the sea is "drowned", the seagull is "grey" and this is how she feels about her own future. I think that the poem reflects how Plath's mind was incapable of accepting love or really knowing what to do with it. Many of her struggles were to do with the idea of rebirth, and in the beginning of the poem, the alternate life within the picture seems like a rebirth for her, but by the end, she realizes that the same problems that followed her in one life, translate to the next.

| Posted on 2010-01-16 | by a guest

.: :.

its really bothering me cause i have a presentation on it.

| Posted on 2009-05-27 | by a guest

.: :.

holy crap this is so hard to analyze.
i have a 6th grade school assignment due and i cant decide wat to say about this poem cuz its so cofizling

| Posted on 2009-04-09 | by a guest

.: :.

I think she is talking about her time in a mental institution following her first suicide attempt.

| Posted on 2009-03-23 | by a guest

.: :.

I personally believe that this poem speaks of WWII. the tapestry is the air view of London. the clear tear is London in blackout during the blitz. the Chinese chime describes the large radar facilities in china and made by china. The waves are the Atlantic fleet in formation sailing tightly packed in fear of bombers and subs. the lights may be searchlights in Berlin. the lady is Britain and lives quietly in the war to try to evade attention from the Germans main force. Britain is isolated from all other countries because it is water locked like a fetus in a bottle. the drowned man is most likely the United States of America after pearl harbor. foreseeing the cold war, they came to Britain`s aid. This is a very good poem.

| Posted on 2008-06-18 | by a guest

.: :.

i dont understand! help! this is so confusing and i have to do it for school. and it is due soon

| Posted on 2008-03-27 | by a guest

.: A Life :.

A Life is a bitter sweet poem. the words and the story it tells of a lady trying to commit suicide and not succeeding are harsh. when she goes to a hospital i believe she feels trapped inside the walls and it trying to escape within her mind

| Posted on 2008-03-27 | by a guest

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