Sylvia Plath’s use the theme of motherhood in her poem Morning Song

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Morning Song 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 Morning Song.


How does Sylvia Plath use the theme of motherhood in her poem “Morning Song”?

Sylvia Plath‘s (1932 – 1963) masterpiece “Morning Song” was first published in 1961. The poem explores the theme of motherhood in a complex and nuanced way. The poem was written shortly after the birth of her first child, Frieda. The poem reflects Plath’s experiences and emotions as a new mother. Here’s an analysis of how she uses the theme of motherhood in the poem:

Ambivalence and Detachment:Morning Song” begins with detachment and ambivalence (having mixed feelings). The speaker describes the baby as a “fat gold watch” and mentions how the baby’s cry is like a “new statue.” This initial detachment suggests the speaker’s struggle to connect with her newborn child, a common experience for many new mothers.

“I’m no more your mother
Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind’s hand.”

The speaker describes a sense of separation or distance from the newborn in these lines. She suggests that motherhood is a role she is beginning to understand and inhabit. The comparison to a cloud and its reflection emphasizes the fluid and evolving nature of the mother-child relationship.

At this early stage, the mother is still coming to terms with her new identity as a mother. Plath captures the mixed emotions that can accompany motherhood, including feelings of uncertainty and distance.

Metaphorical Language: Plath uses rich and vivid metaphors throughout the poem to convey the speaker’s evolving feelings toward motherhood. For example, she compares the baby’s cry to “a handful of notes” and the baby herself to “a new statue.”

“Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try
Your handful of notes;
The clear vowels rise like balloons.”

These metaphors help create a sense of wonder and distance, highlighting the complexity of the mother-child relationship.

Maternal Love and Responsibility: As the poem moves, the speaker’s feelings toward her child develop. She mentions that the baby’s cry is “familiar” and that she has learned to “love it.” This shift in tone mirrors the speaker’s growing sense of maternal love and responsibility. She acknowledges the baby’s presence and the connection between them, even as she struggles to understand or explain it fully.

She addresses her child and uses the word “you.” Of course, the child could not understand what she was saying, but her words were very important. In this stanza, she is translating her happiness into words. When the child wept and came into the world, it gave her joy. This joy is delightful not only for her but also for other people around her.

“Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.”

The word “our” suggests that the poet is not the only person happy about Frieda’s birth. Someone else is also there. Perhaps the poet refers to her husband sharing this joyful moment with her.

Natural Imagery: Plath includes natural imagery in the poem to symbolize the baby’s growth and development. Phrases like “One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral” and “The clear vowels rise like balloons” evoke a sense of organic growth and transformation. Nature imagery highlights that motherhood is a natural and unavoidable part of life.

Evolution of Identity: Throughout the poem, there is a sense of the speaker’s evolving identity as a mother. She starts with separation and confusion but gradually embraces her role as a guardian. The poem reflects motherhood’s profound changes to one’s sense of self and identity.

In “Morning Song,” Sylvia Plath uses poetic language and imagery to explore the complex emotions associated with motherhood. She captures the initial ambivalence, the growth of maternal love, and the evolving identity of the speaker as a mother. The poem offers a glimpse into the inner world of a new mother and the range of emotions she experiences as she cares for her newborn child.