“Daddy,” ”Poppies in October,” and ”Lady Lazarus” by Sylvia Plath

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Sylvia Plath’s poem is very popular among scholars and general readers.  Her obvious abstractism has captured audience all inspired and motivated by her poetry, either to write better or to simplify her poetic wrap.  

Plath’s devotion to her craft is apparent in her works. She commands an insightful voice on her works by being steadfast, honest and direct and not being afraid to openly contemplate our deepest anxieties, complexities, joys, and fears.

“Daddy” fuses Sylvia’s thoughts or raw emotions about her husband and her father.  The end of “Daddy,” one can’t help but read “They always knew it was you” as Sylvia saying directly, “I always knew it was you” or “I always knew it was true,” in regard to her husband’s infidelity which he always deny.  

“Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through” could mean she had either given up on her marriage or more seriously, her life. That she was at her wit’s end. That she can’t go on anymore. The word “through” portrays both resolve and despair.

In Poppies in October, the setting can be interpreted in many ways: a woman tending to a patient, or a woman fighting for her life. There is a strong reference to woman in the poem. Nature, being one of them. A love gift is another.  “By a sky, palely and flamily, Igniting its carbon monoxides,”. This part holds the key to the unraveling of the poem. Carbon monoxide is pollution caused by automobiles. Plath’s mention of carbon monoxide could mean she was referring to the poisons or toxins in either her life or society. That she was in the midst of some form of negativity.

”Lady Lazarus” is about death, and her love-hate relationship with it.  The narrator seemed to grow stronger towards the end of the poem. When Plath called Lazarus a crowned “Lady” could mean an association with female power. Lazarus was a tale from the Bible. He is the man raised by God from the dead. Plath could be referring to a sense of empowerment she felt as she wrote has risen on her own “out of the ash”, from the dead, without help from God or the doctor, like a pheonix with her “red hair”. She coined  “eat men like air” to refer to the women’s growing wield of influence as supported by the fact that she named the poem “Lady Lazarus”.  The Holocaust interpretation could be a powerful theme of this poem.  Since she was German, this poem could be a tribute to the helplessness and powerless of the Holocaust victims. It is Plath’s attempt to overcome the horror of human trauma.

The most frequent color in her poems is red. Love and heart are often associated with red. Reds of lighter tones often represents feelings of lust, anger and rage. Deeper reds, on the other hand, could mean love, passion and heat.

Emotions such as distress and sadness are important to the Plath’s poem. Most of her poems revolved around these emotions which everybody can relate to. Hence, the popular appeal it holds to both scholars and general readers alike. Plath seemed to extol the virtues of distress. And instead of repelling it as we wont to do, she enjoins to enjoy the fleeting moment when you are in distress.

Sylvia Plath’s abilities as a writer enable her to amalgamate so many elements: intellectual aspect of learning, personal emotional experiences and general human experiences. All these she imbibed in her poetry.  To be able to entwine these disparate elements to her poetry is a testament to her abilities as a poet which intrigue and fuel the imagination of scholars and general readers alike.


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