Comment on the Poetic Technique of Sylvia Plath

Question: Comment on the Poetic Technique of Sylvia Plath.


Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) is an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer. She is credited with advancing the genre of confessional poetry. She is best known for her two collections of poetry “The Colossus and Other Poems and Ariel”. She favored much musical and lyrical poetry that had a singing sound.

Use of Free Verse

Plath admitted that she found the forms she adopted in the early and mid-1950s constricting, although she remained more comfortable with strict forms than free verse. Early poems, such as “Min Drake Proceeds to Supper” and “Resolve” seem more formal and disciplined than later works, which have a vivid directness achieved partly through the use of rhythms that are closer to those of speech

Forms of Plath’s poetry

Sylvia Plath experimented with various traditional forms, the sonnet, the villanelle, and terza rima. She worked particularly productively with the Three-line stanza (tercets) and many of his best poems are written in this form: “Morning Song “Crossing the Water” for example. Sylvia Plath uses unrhymed couplets extremely effectively in “A Birthday Present” and “Edge There is an inventive playfulness in the choice of nine-line stanzas in “You’re”, the form reflecting the duration of the speaker’s pregnancy.

Impression of energy to write poetry

The impression of energy in Sylvia Plath’s poems is achieved in different ways. Early in her writing career, the poet worked with a thesaurus on her lap, which perhaps slowed her down. The poem she produced after she had abandoned this practice often have a swifter pace and more fluid feel. Her husband Ted Hughes, said that she began to write speedily, and many of her later poems, such as “Daddy” and “Lady Lazarus seem to call out to be read in an energetic way. The use of run-on lines helps her to convey restlessness and forward movement in “Ariel”.

Use of Figures of speech

Sylvia Plath makes extensive use of figures of speech in her poetry. These enable her to bring ideas to life very vividly for the reader. It also helps her build up associations between her subjects or personae and the landscapes they are placed in. Similes and metaphors are used in sufficient numbers. In Words’ the poet conveys her poem’s independent life through descriptions of horses and their indefatigable hoof-taps”. The ax and sap that she alludes to also help us understand the painful writing process the poet goes through as she tries to produce her “echoes” (poems). Metaphors can be decidedly discomforting too.

Sound Patten of Plath’s Poetry

Sound patterning is important to Sylvia Plath. She uses half-rhyme, alliteration, and assonance throughout her work. In “Daddy” the speaker’s anguish and rage are conveyed by the inconsistent “oo” sounds that dominate the poem. The last line of “The Munich Mannequins.” is stark because of the vowel sounds. Overall, Sylvia Plath’s use of figurative language makes her verse arresting and hard-hitting.


In termination, we can say that Plath uses a lyrical and musical tone and also uses the very verse in her poems.

SR Sarker
SR Sarker
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