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Thread: Metaphors by Sylvia Plath

  1. #1
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    Question Metaphors by Sylvia Plath

    A question to share form Sylvia Plath on a poem on Metaphors

    Metaphors[/SIZE]
    I'm a riddle in nine syllables,
    an elephant, a ponderous house,
    a melon strolling on two tendrils.
    O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!
    This loaf's big with its yeasty rising.
    Money's new-minted in this fat purse.
    I'm a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
    I've eaten a bag of green apples;
    Boarded the train there's no getting off.

    Reading and Reacting

    1.The speaker in this poem is a pregnant woman. Do all the metaphors seem appropriate? For instance, in what sense is the speaker "a means, a stage? (Line 7)?

    2.If you were going to expand this poem, what other metaphors (or similes) would you add?

    3.What are the "nine syllables" to which the speaker refers in the poem's first line? What significance does the number nine have in terms of the poem's subject? In terms of its form?

    4.Would you say the speaker has a positive, negative, or neutral attitude toward her pregnancy? Which metaphors give you this impression?

  2. #2
    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    Hey, I just realized that "homework sucks, but I have to do it" is nine syllables. Cool!

    Simile: Like pregnancy, others can provide aid and support, but ultimately the main burden of homework rests on one person alone.
    "You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common: They don't alter their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views." -- Doctor Who

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    ขอบคุณสำหรับการช่วยเหลือ
    thanks for helping

    P.S. By the way it not a homework but it is a analysis

  4. #4
    confidentially pleased cacian's Avatar
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    wow !!!what an eye opening of a poem I have to say when I was pregnant I never felt anything like it. I must have missed something.
    I could have expressed in this way If I tried.
    I am not sure I like this one because it does not have a consistancy in words and meanings.
    The way I interact with poetry I always try and draw a picture and this one just does not have one. If you try and piece together this picture it will sure a very chaotic almost messy one.
    This is what I mean
    I would not have guessed in a million years this is about a pregnant woman.
    I think I would have just laughed my head off and not have been able to guess what it is about because of the ways the words are thrown.
    Please understand that I am trying to look at it from a prospecitve of someone who does not know this is about pregnancy.

    I'm a riddle in nine syllables,
    an elephant, a ponderous house,
    a melon strolling on two tendrils.
    O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!
    This loaf's big with its yeasty rising.
    Money's new-minted in this fat purse.
    I'm a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
    I've eaten a bag of green apples;
    Boarded the train there's no getting off.

    I find the piece all over the place because it moves from talking about a riddle which usually means something you have to unguess to a syllable, to a house/to an animal/to a fruit/to a timber/then food again.
    I just imagined for a second someone's dust bin being pilled up with stuff.
    I am now not even sure if I can call them metaphors to be honest.
    It is very distracting to the naked and unpleasant in that the sound that comes out of it is rather messy.
    So no I would say the metaphors have failed to engage my imagination because of that bin image being filled up with random stuff.

    question two:
    I would propably not add any of my metaphors because they are nothing like these ones and so they would stand out like a sore thumb what I will do instead and write my own to illustrate a finer, more gentler way to illustrate pregnancy means and I know because I have been one.


    question 3
    The nine syllables refer to the nine months of pregnancy.
    The number nine has no other significance then that of a nine month cycle.


    question 4
    At first guess I felt it written by man for some weird reason there is nothing in the poem that indicates femininity in this piece.
    There is a lot of references to eating a lot, the running theme feels liek someone has been stuffing themselves with food/fat/yeast and comparing it to pregnancy.
    There is also a mention of money/means/stage/ is this a reference to claiming money from the state as you get pregnant for single parents.
    apparently lots of them get pregnant to get benefits.
    The other point is that I am not so sure the person behind this piece has ever experienced pregnancy.
    So all in all I would say this does not get my vote because it a mixture random words put together randomly and trying to sound clever at the same time which never works.
    Last edited by cacian; 04-26-2012 at 06:49 AM.
    it may never try
    but when it does it sigh
    it is just that
    good
    it fly

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    Registered User quasimodo1's Avatar
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    "...calamity's magnet"

    Plath was truly a genious poet; this despite her disabling depression and unfatithful husband. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poet.../94/6#20587587 {good thread...q1}
    "I feel I am free but I know I am not" Emil Cioran

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by General Knight View Post
    A question to share form Sylvia Plath on a poem on Metaphors

    Metaphors[/SIZE]
    I'm a riddle in nine syllables,
    an elephant, a ponderous house,
    a melon strolling on two tendrils.
    O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!
    This loaf's big with its yeasty rising.
    Money's new-minted in this fat purse.
    I'm a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
    I've eaten a bag of green apples;
    Boarded the train there's no getting off.

    Reading and Reacting

    1.The speaker in this poem is a pregnant woman. Do all the metaphors seem appropriate? For instance, in what sense is the speaker "a means, a stage? (Line 7)?

    2.If you were going to expand this poem, what other metaphors (or similes) would you add?

    3.What are the "nine syllables" to which the speaker refers in the poem's first line? What significance does the number nine have in terms of the poem's subject? In terms of its form?

    4.Would you say the speaker has a positive, negative, or neutral attitude toward her pregnancy? Which metaphors give you this impression?

    1) Compare this line with a line from another of Plath's poems "Morning Song" which talks about mirrors and effacement... you could also compare the similes here with those in the poem "You're", a poem also about pregnancy by Plath. There's also 'Dark House'... reading several poems on the same subject may help you to interpret this one by noticing threads of similarity that run through them all. For me personally, being a "means" and a "stage" is about the indifference of biology... ask yourself how Plath feels about the nature of pregnancy? Is it natural?

    2) 9 = 9 months of pregnancy, nine lines to the poem, etc. The poem like the female is constrained.

    4) I would say its always dangerous to assume that the poet is saying anything about herself. In the case of Plath many people take "confessional" and get "biography" when in fact Plath was very much interested in the concepts themselves. It is possible and likely that Plath is talking about the biological process of pregnancy in general rather than her own experience.

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