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Virgin In A Tree Analysis

Author: poem of Sylvia Plath Type: poem Views: 21

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How this tart fable instructs

And mocks! Here's the parody of that moral mousetrap

Set in the proverbs stitched on samplers

Approving chased girls who get them to a tree

And put on bark's nun-black

Habit which deflects

All amorous arrows. For to sheathe the virgin shape

In a scabbard of wood baffles pursuers,

Whether goat-thighed or god-haloed. Ever since that first Daphne

Switched her incomparable back

For a bay-tree hide, respect's

Twined to her hard limbs like ivy: the puritan lip

Cries: 'Celebrate Syrinx whose demurs

Won her the frog-colored skin, pale pith and watery

Bed of a reed. Look:

Pine-needle armor protects

Pitys from Pan's assault! And though age drop

Their leafy crowns, their fame soars,

Eclipsing Eva, Cleo and Helen of Troy:

For which of those would speak

For a fashion that constricts

White bodies in a wooden girdle, root to top

Unfaced, unformed, the nipple-flowers

Shrouded to suckle darkness? Only they

Who keep cool and holy make

A sanctum to attract

Green virgins, consecrating limb and lip

To chastity's service: like prophets, like preachers,

They descant on the serene and seraphic beauty

Of virgins for virginity's sake.'

Be certain some such pact's

Been struck to keep all glory in the grip

Of ugly spinsters and barren sirs

As you etch on the inner window of your eye

This virgin on her rack:

She, ripe and unplucked, 's

Lain splayed too long in the tortuous boughs: overripe

Now, dour-faced, her fingers

Stiff as twigs, her body woodenly

Askew, she'll ache and wake

Though doomsday bud. Neglect's

Given her lips that lemon-tasting droop:

Untongued, all beauty's bright juice sours.

Tree-twist will ape this gross anatomy

Till irony's bough break.


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