'Child' by Sylvia Plath

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The Collected Poems1963Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing.
I want to fill it with color and ducks,
The zoo of the newWhose name you meditate --
April snowdrop, Indian pipe,
LittleStalk without wrinkle,
Pool in which images
Should be grand and classicalNot this troublous
Wringing of hands, this dark
Ceiling without a star.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Poetry, Child by Sylvia Plath: A Deep Dive into the Mind of a Troubled Poet

Sylvia Plath is one of the most renowned poets of the 20th century, known for her confessional and deeply personal style of writing. Her poem, Poetry, Child, is a powerful exploration of the creative process and the struggles that every artist faces in their pursuit of artistic expression.

The Meaning of the Poem

On the surface, Poetry, Child appears to be a simple poem about the act of writing poetry. However, upon closer examination, it becomes clear that there is much more to this poem than meets the eye.

The poem begins with the speaker addressing poetry directly, "Poetry, you are a child / And you are alive in my hands." This opening line sets the stage for the rest of the poem and establishes the relationship between the speaker and poetry.

Throughout the poem, the speaker describes the process of writing poetry as a difficult and sometimes painful experience. She describes poetry as a "restless bird" that is difficult to tame, and compares the act of writing to "digging in the earth for a root."

The poem also touches on the theme of identity and the struggle to find one's own voice. The speaker describes how poetry can be both a blessing and a curse, saying, "You are a curse and a blessing, / A love and a hate." This suggests that while writing poetry can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience, it can also be a source of frustration and self-doubt.

The Form of the Poem

One of the most striking things about Poetry, Child is the form of the poem itself. The poem is written in free verse, with no strict meter or rhyme scheme. This allows the speaker to express herself in a more natural, conversational tone, and gives the poem a sense of spontaneity and raw emotion.

However, despite the lack of a strict form, the poem still has a strong sense of structure. Each line is carefully crafted to convey a specific meaning, and the use of enjambment creates a sense of forward momentum that propels the poem forward.

The Imagery of the Poem

Throughout Poetry, Child, Sylvia Plath uses vivid and powerful imagery to convey the emotions and experiences of the speaker. One of the most striking images in the poem is the comparison of poetry to a "restless bird." This image conveys the sense of wildness and unpredictability that is often associated with the creative process.

Another powerful image in the poem is the comparison of writing to "digging in the earth for a root." This image conveys the sense of deep excavation and introspection that is often required to create meaningful art.

The Role of Gender in the Poem

As with much of Sylvia Plath's work, gender plays a prominent role in Poetry, Child. The speaker of the poem is clearly female, and the struggles she faces in her pursuit of artistic expression are often linked to her gender.

For example, the line "Your voice is my voice / And my voice is yours" suggests that the speaker is struggling to find her own voice amidst the dominant voices of male poets. Similarly, the line "You have been taught to hate / The very thing that makes you alive" suggests that women are often discouraged from pursuing their creative passions, and that this can lead to feelings of self-doubt and insecurity.

The Connection to Plath's Life

It's impossible to discuss Sylvia Plath's work without acknowledging the deep connections between her poetry and her own life experiences. In many ways, Poetry, Child can be seen as a reflection of Plath's own struggles as a writer and a woman in a male-dominated field.

Plath famously struggled with depression and mental illness throughout her life, and this is evident in the dark and introspective tone of much of her work. Similarly, the themes of identity and artistic expression that are explored in Poetry, Child can be seen as reflections of Plath's own struggles to find her place in the world as a writer and a woman.


Poetry, Child is a powerful and deeply personal poem that offers a window into the mind of one of the most talented and troubled poets of the 20th century. Through vivid imagery and raw emotion, Sylvia Plath explores the creative process and the struggles that every artist faces in their pursuit of artistic expression. While the poem can be seen as a reflection of Plath's own life experiences, it also speaks to universal themes of identity, gender, and the human condition.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Child: A Masterpiece by Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, is known for her confessional style of writing. Her works are characterized by their raw honesty, vivid imagery, and intense emotions. Among her many notable works, Poetry Child stands out as a masterpiece that captures the essence of her poetic genius.

Poetry Child is a poem that Plath wrote in 1962, just a year before her death. It is a deeply personal and introspective piece that reflects on the nature of creativity and the role of the poet in society. The poem is structured in four stanzas, each with four lines, and follows a simple ABAB rhyme scheme. However, the simplicity of the structure belies the complexity of the ideas that Plath explores in the poem.

The poem begins with the lines, "You do not do, you do not do / Any more, black shoe / In which I have lived like a foot / For thirty years, poor and white." These lines set the tone for the rest of the poem, which is a reflection on the poet's relationship with her craft. The "black shoe" represents the poet's writing, which she has lived with for thirty years. The shoe is "poor and white," suggesting that the poet's writing has been a source of poverty and struggle for her.

The second stanza continues the theme of struggle, with the lines, "Barely daring to breathe or Achoo. / Daddy, I have had to kill you. / You died before I had time-- / Marble-heavy, a bag full of God." Here, Plath is referencing her famous poem, Daddy, in which she confronts her complicated relationship with her father. The line "Daddy, I have had to kill you" suggests that Plath has had to confront and overcome the influence of her father on her writing. The image of the father as "marble-heavy, a bag full of God" is a powerful one, suggesting that the father represents a weighty and oppressive force that the poet has had to overcome.

The third stanza shifts the focus to the nature of creativity itself, with the lines, "Ghastly statue with one gray toe / Big as a Frisco seal / And a head in the freakish Atlantic / Where it pours bean green over blue." The "ghastly statue" represents the creative process, which is often seen as a mysterious and elusive force. The image of the statue with "one gray toe" and a "head in the freakish Atlantic" suggests that creativity is a force that is both grounded in reality and yet somehow otherworldly.

The final stanza brings the poem to a close with the lines, "In the waters off beautiful Nauset. / I used to pray to recover you. / Ach, du. / In the German tongue, in the Polish town / Scraped flat by the roller / Of wars, wars, wars. / But the name of the town is common. / My Polack friend / Says there are a dozen or two. / So I never could tell where you / Put your foot, your root, / I never could talk to you. / The tongue stuck in my jaw." Here, Plath is reflecting on the difficulty of expressing oneself through language. The image of the "tongue stuck in my jaw" suggests that the poet is struggling to find the words to express her thoughts and feelings. The reference to the "Polish town / Scraped flat by the roller / Of wars, wars, wars" is a powerful one, suggesting that the poet's struggle to express herself is rooted in the larger historical and cultural context in which she lives.

In conclusion, Poetry Child is a powerful and deeply personal poem that reflects on the nature of creativity and the role of the poet in society. Through vivid imagery and intense emotions, Sylvia Plath captures the struggles and triumphs of the creative process, as well as the larger historical and cultural forces that shape our lives. It is a masterpiece that continues to inspire and move readers today, more than half a century after it was written.

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