Metaphors – Sylvia Plath
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.
This week on the Influence: Sylvia Plath!
Much is made about the life of Plath, to the point that much of her work is overlooked outside of a handful of poems. Personally, my favorite poems of hers are the ones where she shows off how much of a poetry geek she was (and by poetry geek I mean poetic virtuoso!).
This poem in particular is a marvel. I was stumped as to what it meant or what it was doing the first few times I read it years ago. It says nothing big, really, (not in the classroom/dig up the meaning kind of way) but in figuring out how to read it, I learned much about what a poem could do.
I read and reread the poem, and it wasn’t until I took the first line to heart – a riddle in nine syllables – that I started to see nine everywhere – nine letters in the word “Metaphors”, nine syllables per line, nine lines in the whole poem. Which only leads into the concept of the poem – pregnancy and its nine months of effort.
Through syllabics and form, Plath is able to express several (nine!) of the facets of her experience with impending motherhood.
The poem endears itself to the poet in me that likes to work out extra layers in a poem as part of the process and overall meaning. The cinquain tributes from a previous post are an example of this side.
In other happenings, the construction at our house has stirred some inner soul construction – specifically the decision to pursue a PhD in Creative Writing. More on this front as it develops. For now, I have – as the lady said – Boarded the train there’s no getting off.