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Friday Poem: Sylvia Plath - You're

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Sylvia Plath is a widely read poet and novelist, whose well known tumultuous life and ultimate demise have shaped and defined her work over the years.

Before Plath’s tragic suicide in 1963, she spent most of her adult life dealing with serious clinical depression. Her personal struggles are the basis for much of her written work, as she produced many intense and compelling poems that give readers a look into her turbulent mind.

Her marriage to fellow writer, Ted Hughes, and the two children they had together are also chronicled within her work. In fact, the topic of family life often intertwined with her mental health struggles, furthering the restless quality that her poetry often conveys.

In 'You’re', however, readers get to see a side of Plath that verges on happy. She writes, “Of July to All Fool’s Day,” from July to April, a period of nine months, indicating that this poem chronicles Plath’s feelings and thoughts during the nine months of a pregnancy.

Plath presents a list of metaphors to describe her feelings about impending motherhood. Complex and indirect, her thoughts on the matter are left open for readers to interpret. Read the full poem below. 

 

 

Clownlike, happiest on your hands,

Feet to the stars, and moon-skulled,

Gilled like a fish. A common-sense

Thumbs-down on the dodo’s mode.

Wrapped up in yourself like a spool,

Trawling your dark as owls do.

Mute as a turnip from the Fourth

Of July to All Fool’s Day,

O high-riser, my little loaf.

 

Vague as fog and looked for like mail.

Farther off than Australia.

Bent-backed Atlas, our travelled prawn.

Snug as a bud and at home

Like a sprat in a pickle jug.

A creel of eels, all ripples.

Jumpy as a Mexican bean.

Right, like a well-done sum.

A clean slate, with your own face on. 




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