Explanation Of the Poem 'Morning Song By Sylvia

Go down

Explanation Of the Poem 'Morning Song By Sylvia

Post by Archer on Fri Jan 14, 2011 1:45 pm


Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.

Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness
Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.

I'm no more your mother
Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind's hand.

All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear.

One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral
In my Victorian nightgown.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat's. The window square

Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try
Your handful of notes;
The clear vowels rise like balloons.

This poem is part of the collection Ariel and it is considered part of the so called Confessional poetry, a kind of poetry drafted by a group of poets of the fifties of the twentieth century in which Sylvia Plath has been framed and which works are composed in a mode of verse that reveals the poet's personal problems in a very frankly way. Long time it has been considered as a characteristic of the collection the theme of suicide, as a hint of the intimate subjects dealt with in the poems, but as in the previous research of this paper has been stated, death poems were not part of this collection, being the poems that express ideas on death not part of the original selection made by Plath before dying.


The poem is composed in free verses; it does not seek a regular metre and rhyming scheme. It is composed by six stanzas of three verses each.

The first stanza begins with the word love, which is a good hint of the theme of the poem. It is, the birth of Sylvia's son and the feelings she experiments because of her maternity. This word, love, it is said to be the reason of the baby's coming to the world. This coming, the sense of movement of the action, is compared with that of a watch, as an object that starts working at a certain point, in the life of a person this certain point can be the moment of the birth. This mentioned watch is a gold watch, the adjective gold gives an idea of the importance of the concept compared to it, in this case the newborn. And the word fat, referring to this watch, alludes to the baby's shape, being babies often tubby and rounded in their shape when they are born. In the second verse Plath tells the moment the midwife slaps the footsoles of the baby, when babies are born, the midwifes or the doctors that help in the childbirths usually snap the baby's buttocks or, in this case, the footsoles to help them breath as they start crying. In the poem, this crying, described as bald, sets the moment the new person has come to the world. This idea is described as “[…] took its place among the elements”. Being these elements interpreted as the elements that compose the world, the natural elements, and, they may be as well, the elements human beings have created to conform the world as it is nowadays, or as it was in that moment of history when Sylvia Plath lived.

The second stanza describes how the arrival of the new born has been welcomed. The first verse talks about the echoes of the voices of the parents magnifying his arrival, these words give idea of the happiness brought to them by the birth. The child is described as “new statue in a drafty museum”, his nakedness is compared to a statue, this image can be easily evoked by the reader. The naked body of a baby, so delicate and soft, is comparable with the perfection of the statues chiselled by crafty sculptors. This image of the delicate baby is the cause of the parent's worries, of the end of the safety felt before the new born's arrival, because of the responsibility on the new person good development and growing. So Sylvia says they stand as blankly walls, just staring around the baby, expectant.

The third stanza begins comparing Sylvia's motherhood with the breaking of the clouds in rain. The rain, stated as a mirror which reflects the disappearing of the clouds themselves; extinction made by the action of raining and the blow of the wind. This expression may express the idea of motherhood not as a condition of possession by the mother. The baby belongs to the world, to itself, to the elements which surround his life in the world.

In the fourth stanza the worry of the mother as the baby sleeps is expressed. The breath of the baby is described as “moth-breath”, this comparison gives an idea of the speed and regularity of the baby's breath as it sleeps. As moths are characterized by the fast and constant movement of their wings and are nocturnal insects. Therefore, the movement of these insects is compared with the rhythm of the breath of the baby at night when it is sleeping. This breathing, expressed as a flying is described as flickering among “the flat pink roses”. These flat pink roses may be the decoration of the wall papers of the room where the baby sleeps as they are described as flat and walls are the limits of the rooms and the breathing, as the moths flying, collides with the limits of the room where it is taking place or as the verse says “Flickers among” them. The mother's worry and attention is expressed when she says that she wakes to listen to this breath and the sound that comes to her is said to be like the sound of the sea that moves in her ears. This description of the sound gives idea of the rhythm of the breathing, similar to the sound of the sea.

In the penultimate stanza the characteristic mother's state of alert is expressed when she says that if she hears a cry of her baby she stumbles from bed, in a clumsy way, being his clumsiness reflected by the composed term cow-heavy, and described as floral surely referring this term, floral, to the print of her Victorian nightgown. The mouth of the baby as it cries is described as a cat's mouth, this comparison may be because of the similarity of the baby's lament, surely longing for food, with that of the baby cat drawing for its mother attention. The last verse of this stanza links with the first verse of the next one and starts describing the moment of the daybreak

This last stanza as I said before links with the previous one where the window is mentioned. In this stanza it is said that the window square whitens, the day light is coming and in a poetic way she describes how the night ends by saying that it “swallows its dull stars”. The she describes the beginning of the baby's day. It starts babbling. This is a description of the baby's attempts to produce sounds, something characteristic of humans before we learn how to speak. These sounds are described as “The clear vowels rise like balloons”. The first sounds babies produce are most of all vowels. And the description of their production and heard like the rising of balloons in the air give clear idea of the constancy and intensity of the rising of these sounds.
Free Your Soul
Free Your Soul

Posts : 205
Join date : 2011-01-14
Age : 38

View user profile http://notes.englishboard.net

Back to top Go down

Re: Explanation Of the Poem 'Morning Song By Sylvia

Post by Archer on Fri Jan 14, 2011 1:46 pm

The poem “Morning Song” consists of six three-line unrimed stanzas. It features a mother addressing her newborn infant.

First Stanza – “Love set you going like a fat gold watch”

In the first stanza, the mother describes the conception of the child by metaphorically comparing it to setting “a fat gold watch.” The image of the watch works well because an infant is somewhat fat, and somewhat gold, especially in terms of it value to the new parent.

Then the mother/speaker notes that the “midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry / Took its place among the elements.” Again, the image created by the word “bald” is consistent to the physical head of a newborn. The speaker claims that the cry “took its place among the elements” sounds rather scientific while also being somewhat vague.

Second Stanza – “New statue”

When the speaker says that “Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival,” the reader can imagine grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends making their comments about the baby. Some will point out how cute it is, how tiny those fingers and toes are, how sweet it smells. Then the speaker describes the baby as a “New state / In a drafty museum, / your nakedness / Shadows our safety.”

This soft, cuddly, sweet-smelling tiny human being to this mother seems like a stature in a drafty museum. The harshness of that image reveals the mother’s uncertainty about the cuteness and cuddly nature of this strange new being in her life. Her safe life is now under a shadow projected by the “nakedness” of this new bald creature.

Third Stanza – “I'm no more your mother”

In the third stanza, the speaker makes one direct statement that cuts the bonds of mother and child irrevocably: clouds send down rain that form pools of water and those pools in turn reflect the clouds while at the same time the wind is driving the clouds away. This speaker claims that her motherly relationship with this new being is no more than that of the cloud and the mirror-pool.

Fourth Stanza – “A far sea moves in my ear”

Despite all the harsh thoughts and cryptic comparisons of the child to statues and pools, in the fourth stanza, the speaker reveals that she is kept awake all night listening to the breathing of the infant. As the “flat pink roses” entertain the flickering “moth-breath,” the mother hears the sounds of the baby’s breathing. And as she listens, she also becomes aware of the sound of silence, which she calls “a far sea.”

Fifth and Sixth Stanzas – “One cry, and I stumble from bed”

The final two stanzas, which are linked in mid-sentence, dramatize the mother’s actions as soon as she hears the baby cry. She immediately gets out of bed to go attend to the baby. Her body is still heavy from giving birth; she is “cow-heavy and floral / In my Victorian nightgown.”

As she prepares to nurse the baby, she notes that its mouth is “clean as a cat's.” It is almost daylight; the speaker notices that “The window square / / Whitens and swallows its dull stars.” This sentence links the last two stanzas, designating a time lapse between the dark and light of dawn. Then the speaker invokes the reason for the poem’s title: “And now you try / Your handful of notes; / The clear vowels rise like balloons.” The mother sits nursing the baby watching night turn to day; then she listens as the baby beings to vocalize. The final image of balloons rising leaves the reader with splash of color and a “handful of notes” from the throat of the newborn infant.

The Statue Metaphor

It is telling that Plath, in her poem titled “Daddy,” metaphorically likened Daddy to a statue: “Ghastly statue with one gray toe.” While the speaker in “Morning Song” shows at least a modicum of affection of mother for child, the speaker of “Daddy” demonstrates strong animosity for her subject. The bond of a mother’s love is not sentimentalized in “Morning Song,” and the speaker is not shy about elucidating the natural fears and anxieties of new parenthood.
Free Your Soul
Free Your Soul

Posts : 205
Join date : 2011-01-14
Age : 38

View user profile http://notes.englishboard.net

Back to top Go down

Back to top

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum