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Sylvia Plath's stark poem, "Childless Woman"

She identifies the knot as herself and calls it "the rose you achieve" (Plath 259). As a rose, her self is evanescent, although beautiful; it is also delicate and easily bruised. Moreover, a rose is a flower often found at funerals. To say that it is "achieve[d]" makes it seem worked and manipulated by the person she is speaking the poem to-perhaps her lover, or perhaps God Himself. Having been achieved, she has been created and exists, but as the rest of the poem intimates, it is an empty and soulless self leading solely to death.

Where she talks about "This body, this ivory, ungodly as a child's shriek," there are multiple suggestions that reflect the thesis (Plath 259). "This body"-instead of "my body"-gives the remark the perspective of an outsider, one who regards the body as an object rather than as a living thing. By referring to it as "ivory," Plath relates it to a dead object-a tusk. Likewise, there is the implication of an ivory tower, which signifies that she is shut away from life and inaccessible. It is "ungodly as a child's shriek" because it is frightening and horrific, as though it were a hideous corpse rather than a live body.

Plath refers to herself as "spiderlike," an image that conjures up spiders spinning webs in the corners of long-undisturbed rooms in castles where no one has lived for a long time (Plath 259). She states that she spins "mirrors, loyal to my image, uttering nothing but blood," a cryptic description that depicts her reflection of herself as one that shows only blood-a possible reference to menstruation or to the process of bleeding. Her injunction to "Taste it" is macabre but also suggests that it is fresh blood, having just issued forth from her, a fact that communicates that she is still bleeding-possibly bleeding to death (Plath 259). Children are often reflections of their parents in certain way


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Sylvia Plath's stark poem, "Childless Woman". (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:39, September 20, 2017, from
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