Poets And Poetry

Poetry Analysis Morning Song by Sylvia Plath

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Sylvia Plath creates a full scene with her piece, "Morning Song". She uses each word to draw a picture of her daily activities. Metaphorically a masterpiece, she draws the reader's attention in each line. It is a beautiful and tender work that all mothers can read and relate.

Many of Plath's references must be pondered in order to savor the subtle meanings given.  This is one of the few "Everyday" pieces Plath created during her life and certainly one of the more affectionate.

Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
Love literally is meant in this line. A reference to the act of love. The watch the heartbeat of the infant. This line should be looked at as it was written, with no magic or mirrors. Plath digs deep and finds the most basic meanings, puts them in action.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements
Again, Plath uses the obvious beautifully. This is the arrival of her child into this world -  the birth of her baby.

Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue
What is the reaction of the birth of a child? People "Ohhh" and "Ahhh" at the infant. The hospital rooms tend to hold sound, echoing. A "New Statue" would seem a reference to something people would look at, study.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness
Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.
Why a museum? What commonality does a museum and a hospital share? The open airy rooms, the feeling of reverence on some level, and both have many visitors. It is a perfect line of correlations between the two for the effect she wants to give.

Why would the baby's "Nakedness" shadow safety? What is one of the first things asked when a child is born? What is the gender! How uncomfortable it is to change a diaper with a crowd! "Standing round blankly as walls" is purely the action of the visitors.

They stand around. They look at the mother, the father, the baby. They don't know what else to do. Some do not know what to say. So, they "Ohh" and "Ahh" and make small talk.

I'm no more your mother
Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind's hand
I read this section as her own awe of her child. She sees it as something greater than herself. She does not want to see that she was the creator, but merely a door to allow the child entry. She sees birth as a natural, earthy act that is greater than her. She IS the mother but she is a player in the larger action.This section is about humility .

All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear.
This descriptive passage starts with how soft the breath of the baby is and goes to describe the wallpaper! Pink roses - think girl! Mother instincts kick in; she wakes before the baby actually cries. The baby is the far sea. The start of the cry.

One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral
In my Victorian nightgown
Beautiful wording. With one cry, she leaves the warmth of her bed. She is "Cow-heavy" - her breasts are full of milk, and she is dressed in a floral Victorian styled gown. This is one of my favorite lines, because Plath tells you she is breast feeding the baby, and how she looks as she springs from bed in the morning.

Your mouth opens clean as a cat's. The window square
The baby's mouth is clean, no drool. Mothers know that special way a baby's mouth opens, and how the little tongue darts forward and back, a sign of hunger. The baby's bedroom window is the "window square"this is an interesting break she chooses, because only in the next sentence are her full phrases complete.

Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try
Here she tells you that the morning light is breaking through the baby's window. The stars are fading in the morning's light. Sunshine peeks.

Your handful of notes;
The clear vowels rise like balloons.
Here, the full concept is explained and understood. Her morning song IS the baby waking in the morning. At dawn! The baby's cries are clear and "vowels" are "Aaaaaaaa!", or "Ohhhhhh"typical baby cries which fill the air.

This beautiful poem is almost a riddle. Some people have read this work and NOT known what Plath's morning song is. It is the baby. This piece can be understood by the simplicity of what it is like to have an infant.

I believe this work is one of Sylvia Plath's most touching, although it's often overlooked in favor of the many works of hers which are more complicated.

The Morning Song is a mother, waking to feed her baby. Simple, tender and sweet.

More about this author: J.R. Lewis

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