Celebrating The New Life In Sylvia Plath’s Poems ‘Child’ And ‘Morning Song’
Plath’s poetry is full of prominent themes about inadequacy as well mental anguish. Plath’s inability to believe in herself is most evident in “Mirror”, where the poet struggles with her insecurities. Plath also confronts her worst thoughts in Arrival of The Bee Box’ (and ‘Poppies, July’). Plath’s artwork should not be taken to mean her entire work. In fact, it is more lighthearted and optimistic than many of her other works. Her poems are darkly pessimistic but not all of them depict destruction and death. Poetry such as Child’ or Morning Song’, on the other hand, celebrates the new life and potential for death in her children.
Morning Song begins with the word ‘love.’ The tone is set by the young mother’s response to the infant’s cry. She remains unsure of her role. The subject matter of despair is outright ignored in ‘Morning Song.’ This poem celebrates a new beginning. Plath’s poetry shares a common theme of feelings of inadequacy, uncertainty and confusion. The poet describes looking blankly at the walls, confused and unsure by motherhood. The last image shows optimism. The final image ends with a celebration that conveys her optimism for the child’s success. “And now you attempt/ few notes/ clear vowels rise as balloons.” This poem provides strong evidence that Plath’s dominant theme is not death. This poem portrays Plath’s inner turmoil. It also shows her ineptitude. Plath’s concern for her child’s needs can be seen in such a poetic. She aims to fill her child’s eyes with colour and ducks and make the world a better place. Although the poem celebrates the child’s accomplishments, the end of the poem shows Plath in tears and agitation. In the last lines, she worries about her mental anguish and doubts that she can create a world filled with classic images and grand designs for her child. Plath worries that her inner turmoil will affect this child’s life, making it difficult for her to create a world of ‘grand’ and classical images. This is a reminder that Plath has more to her work than just meditations on darkness.
Plath’s most haunting and darkest poem is ‘Mirror. This is a reflection of her self doubts, inadequacy, and the way she feels about them. Plath presents a vivid, stark depiction of emotional struggle as well as the dangers inherent in self examination. This contrasts with Plath’s focus on the death matter. Plath’s “searching my reach for who she is” prompts the poet to return to the mirror. One can easily get used to Plath’s unstable inner psyche which doubts her abilities through reading. The poem speaks of her low self-esteem and lacks hope. She is constantly disappointed by herself and returns to it, only to find that she is not who she really is. The mirror speaks for a society that values women based on their looks and not their abilities. Plath was conscious of the pressures she felt to be the perfect housewife in the 1950’s and suffered greatly from her perceived failure. Plath’s poem continues to reflect the theme of inadequacy as well as the torn head.
Plath’s “Arrival of The Bee Box” reflects her desire to control the dark parts of her mind. Plath believed that being a true writer meant exploring one’s unconscious mind. Plath considers the beebox to be a hidden aspect of Plath’s mind, the secret and mysterious places that true poets must discover. “The box is locked. It is dangerous.” Plath’s fear of bees suggests her fear of demons deep in her own head. Plath’s incessant return to the box is a sign of her desperate need to be a poet and feel somewhat competent. The speaker in Mirror is similarly drawn back into the box to find self-acceptance. Plath’s poems are marked by the theme that Plath feels inadequate. The speaker vows that she will face all her fears in the closing verse. “The box can only be temporary.”
Although “Poppies in July”, the title suggests that the poem is about nature’s beauty, riches and fragility, this is actually one Plath’s most sad poems. Plath’s struggle to understand herself is the theme of this poem. Plath’s confusion and pain are all portrayed in the poem through surreal images. The ‘little hell flames, little poppies’ are cruel and inhumane ways that the speaker is suffering. She is so upset by her pain that she almost feels numb. She said that although she put her hands between the flames, ‘nothing’ burns. This seems to be the result of her mental anguish, which she has suffered throughout her life, but also because of the realization that her husband is having an affair. Although the images and concepts may seem disturbing, the poem perfectly describes heartbreak. Plath’s poetry was not intended to make death a reality, but rather to reveal the truth about mental and emotional suffering. This poem is a perfect example of that.
Plath’s poems reflect extreme emotional states. There are brief moments of joy or optimism, but the predominant themes are mental anguish as well as persistent feelings and inadequacy. Although Plath’s poetry presents a grim view on life, her poems are not about the death and its terrible outcome. It is important to remember that her struggle was not without joy. She also loved her children.