Different stages of the journey in Plath’s poem Crossing the Water

Shape Shape

Crossing the Water is a notable literary work by Sylvia Plath. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of Crossing the Water.


What are the different stages of the journey in Plath’s poem “Crossing the Water”?

In “Crossing the Water” by Sylvia Plath (1932 – 1963), the poem takes the reader through various stages of a journey, both physical and emotional. These stages can be identified as follows:

Introduction to the Scene: The poem begins by setting the stage with vivid imagery of a “black lake, a black boat, and two black, cut-paper people.” This initial stage introduces the reader to the mysterious and dark atmosphere that will permeate the rest of the poem.

Encounter with Nature: The second stage involves an encounter with nature, specifically the black trees and water flowers. The trees’ shadows are so vast that they seem to “cover Canada,” creating an alarming and overwhelming presence. On the other hand, the water flowers provide a sense of calmness and tranquillity, with a little light filtering through them.

Dark and Primal Aspects: The third stage delves into the dark and primal aspects of the journey. The “cold worlds shake from the oar of the boat,” emphasizing movement and a sense of struggle. The poem speaks of the “spirit of blackness” that resides within both humans and fishes, implying a deep connection between humans and the natural world’s darker forces.

The Contrast of Light and Darkness: The fifth stage presents a striking contrast between darkness and light. “Stars open among the lilies,” symbolizing moments of beauty and hope amidst the darkness.

The final stage of the journey concludes with a powerful image of “the silence of astounded souls.” This silence reflects a moment of profound revelation and awe, leaving the reader with a sense of reflection.

Throughout these stages, the journey in the poem goes beyond the physical setting of the lake and boat, representing a deeper exploration of the human experience, the connection to nature, and the contemplation of life’s complexities.