Sylvia Plath was born in Boston in 1932. She then took her own life in 1963 at the age of thirty-one. Sylvia Plath was an astonishing woman who, in the 31 years she lived established a reputation as the foremost female poet of her age. She married Yorkshire poet Ted Hughes, their relationship was destructive and yet creative as Plath produced great poems displayed her life and depressive years towards her death. The fact that she took her own life already gives us the idea that she did see the world through eyes different from other people. Plath must have had a reason to take her own life.
The reason could be that Plath’s wild imagination caused her not to recognise the world for what it actually is and she therefore didn’t see the bright side of the Earth and thus committed suicide believing that she was unwanted. Plath felt alone and wanted attention. Sylvia Plath did see the world through different eyes than ordinary people. Our evidence for this is two of her poetry piece, ‘Blackberrying’. This poem expresses, with remarkable vividness, the paranoia Plath felt, even faced with the pleasant task of picking Blackberries by the sea…
Plath opens the poem ‘Blackberrying’ with the word ‘nobody’. Already, after the first word the sense of her isolation begins. Also in line 1 Plath repeats the word ‘nothing, nothing’. This repeated negative also appears again in line 25. Like ‘Nobody’ it reinforces empty solitude and lack of purpose to her life and the poem. In line 3, Plath says, ‘a sea’. This employs that she can’t see it from where she is at that present moment. It may also mean that she knows that there is a sea nearby, but she doesn’t necessarily know which sea it is.
This indefinite article adds the felling of her uncertainty. Throughout the poem the ‘Blackberries’ become increasingly alive. For example in line 5 they have ‘eyes’. Also, in line 7 the ‘juices’ from the ‘Blackberries’ become blood. The idea is that the berries hurl themselves to death on her. Plath states, “I had not asked for such a blood sister hood. ” She is talking about the ‘blackberries squandering on her fingers’. This gives the impression that the berries are male, reacting to her feminity.
In line 9 the berries, ‘enter my milkbottle’, this may be a covert to a sexual reference because straight after this, Plath exclaims that the male berries of whom are watching her, ‘love me’. The ‘Blackberries’ oblige her by ‘flattening their sides’ to squeeze into her bottle. Towards the end of the first stanza the berries have become active and Plath is now passive. Each nine-line stanza deals with a different topic. Stanza one dealt with setting the scene and introducing the Blackberries. Stanza Two continues with a dark side just as stanza one began.
In line 10, ‘overhead go the Choughs in black, cacophonous flocks’. The Choughs are red-legged crows that scavenge and eat the dead. They fly over Plath’s head making a violent, screeching call in their flock. In line 11 the ‘Blown’ sky gives off the impression that she is under a wind or in real life a great deal of pressure. This coincides with line 13 where Plath has a fear that this path will go on forever, this may be a reference to her life and her depression (her great deal of pressure), which seems to be never ending.
The active sea reinforces her helplessness, and she is now inactive in the poem for the second time. In lines 15-18 Plath mentions the Flies. The flies cover the rotting berries. These are overtly about death; maybe this line is expressing her own feelings of life and death and maybe how she feels-she wishes to rot away with the Berries. In Line 19 there is a sense that she dreads actually getting to that unseen sea. The sea is so often in poetry a metaphor of death or eternity and so yet again there is a suggestion of death.
This gives the impression that Plath believes that Death is the only solution to her fears and problems yet she doesn’t actually know wheteher or not to solve her problems or just suffer them. This hints at her depression and helplessness once again. Once again in line 25 Plath hints at her emptiness with yet another repetition, “Nothing, Nothing”. The repetition is important because it shows the poem’s emptiness and its negative flavour. Throughout the poem, Plath gives off a sense of disturbed emptiness. Plath is throughout the poem expressing her feelings of emptiness and her depression.
From lines 11 to 19 there is always a sense of death. Plath makes several indications that she is lonely and feels that she would like to end her life. Some examples of this are, “I do not think the sea will appear at all”. This gives the impression that the road she is on will go on forever. This also gives a suspicion that Plath is talking about her depression and how it never seems to end, as poets always express their feelings about life in their poems.
I will now be talking about another of Sylvia Plath’s poems: Mirror This poem shows Plath’s conflicted feelings about her self-identity but primarily her worry about ageing. For many women, the search into a mirror is ultimately a search for the self; often to view their appearance and to reflect on themselves as people. So maybe Plath could be looking into her nature. The mirror’s opening announcement of its identity calls that character into question and begins to change the mirror from a passive reflector into an active speaker. The mirror is seen as organic “I swallow” relates to line 8 “heart” where the mirror yet again seems organic.
Plath refers to the dim moon and candlelight here as ‘liars’, as they do not tell the truth; they reassure the woman in the poem, who is possibly Plath, that she looks stunning in the reflection of the Mirror. Plath shows that the ‘truth’ can sometimes be worse than ‘cruelty’ and so the Mirror and the dim light are working together to restore confidence in her. The mirror is male he calls himself a “God” and is precise and ‘truthful’ unlike the emotionally untidy Plath. As in ‘Blackberrying’ Plath uses a repetition to exclaim a certain point.
Here she indicates that the Mirror is repeatedly being separated from the wall, “over and over”. In the following stanza the idea of someone bending over a lake come from the Ovidian story of Narcissus (who fell in love with his reflection) and Echo, who couldn’t speak after being cursed by Hera. Hence “Now I am a lake”, the mirror has become a lake. Plath is crying because of what she looks like “she rewards me with tears” and shows her concentration on getting old by coming back each morning “I am important to her… ach morning her face replaces the darkness” the mirror is in her bedroom showing how important it is to her.
This further shows Plath’s paranoia about ageing and the way it (the Mirror) shows her physical appearance. The ending lines show Plath facing an image that finally appears in the mirror, her reflection on the future years as an old woman, she is the old scaly “terrible fish”. The Mirror says, “in me she has drowned a young girl”. This image again shows Plath’s paranoia of aging as she is worried that she has matured a great deal and her once loved reflection in the Lake is now lost forever just like Narcissus’s.
The “terrible fish” is simply the image of aging and I think it is a personification of the suppressed demon that charges Plath’s poetry as it preoccupies her life. She is the mirror who takes a kind of fierce pleasure in her intractable truth and who, by rejecting the role of passive reflector for a more creative self-rule, becomes, in that same male-inscribed view, a devouring monster. The two poems I have just written about reflect Sylvia Plaths worry about ageing and death. Each poem shows Plath going through a series of landscapes.
Her choice of words combined with her use of similes ‘dumb as eyes’, her metaphors ‘bits of brown paper’ and perhaps most significantly her use of personification ‘they (the blackberries) squander their blood on my fingers’, ‘the candles and moon are liars’, all give off an image of life. In both poems the Blackberries and the mirror are both male, they both love Plath. The poems are finally about language and imitation, about poetry and its relation to what it describes with this note I agree that poets see the world through different from other people.
Only after some careful thought and consideration we do realise that poets do see the world through eyes different to other people. . From reading ‘Blackberrying’ by Sylvia Plath and giving the poem some thought as to what it might mean, we do get the impression that poets, especially Plath, do see the world through eyes different from other people. Plath has expressed her true feelings on her life in the poem, but her feelings are hidden under the images and descriptions within the poem.