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Sylvia Plath - Balloons

Since Christmas they have lived with us,
Guileless and clear,
Oval soul-animals,
Taking up half the space,
Moving and rubbing on the silk

Invisible air drifts,
Giving a shriek and pop
When attacked, then scooting to rest, barely trembling.
Yellow cathead, blue fish ----
Such queer moons we live with

Instead of dead furniture!
Straw mats, white walls
And these traveling
Globes of thin air, red, green,

The heart like wishes or free
Peacocks blessing
Old ground with a feather
Beaten in starry metals.
Your small

Brother is making
His balloon squeak like a cat.
Seeming to see
A funny pink world he might eat on the other side of it,
He bites,

Then sits
Back, fat jug
Contemplating a world clear as water.
A red
Shred in his little fist.

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Added: Feb 20 2003 | Viewed: 2973 times | Comments and analysis of Balloons by Sylvia Plath Comments (7)

Balloons - Comments and Information

Poet: Sylvia Plath
Poem: Balloons
Volume: The Collected Poems
Year: Published/Written in 1963
Poem of the Day: Jun 13 2011

Comment 7 of 7, added on January 14th, 2014 at 2:21 PM.

oh how lovely this poem. So much depth and so moving. Absolutely splendid! I love the way she describe this balloon. Amazing

Emily from United States
Comment 6 of 7, added on January 15th, 2012 at 6:30 PM.

The way she describes the balloons as "Oval Soul Animals" and etc.. is really interesting. This seems to be in her usual style of perceiving unordinary details and characteristics in ordinary objects. It is an expression of her fantastic imagination that twists reality into something else. Therefore describing the balloons as creatures that "have been living with us since christmas," and who "give a shriek and a pop when attacked"
She also describes them as delightful and mysterious and, in her own words, "queer." They delight the "heart like wishes" in a way and she compares this to how a peacock leaves a bright and colorful feather on the ground. In other words they provoke the imagination and decorate their surroundings etc...
and then this is related in the scene with the child and the balloon, where he is intrigued by the red imaginative world he sees through the balloon and then when it pops he contemplates a "clear world." This can perhaps show a contrast between the dream-like state of childhood to the harshness of objective reality.
The "red shred in his fist" maybe is either meant to give some morbid imagery to the dead corpse of what she described as empty creatures, or the representation of broken childhood dreams, or something to that affect.
Just some opinions, not laid out as properly as it could have been but I hope it helps some people in interpreting the poem regardless.
~Evan :)

Evan from Canada
Comment 5 of 7, added on May 17th, 2008 at 3:05 PM.

An odd quality in this poem is the airy effect given by the use of enjambments and incomplete thoughts in each line. It is as if the poem itself were a balloon. This poem seems to reflect a common theme in Plath's poetry: the loss of innocence, which is marked by the popping of the balloon in the second to last stanza. Out of curiosity, the baby bites into it and the balloon pops, and all that remains is "A red/ Shred in his little fist". The use of alliteration and onomatopoeia also enhances the balloon quality of this poem. The fact that a balloon is filled with air makes it seem that such innocence is substance-less and therefor superficial. I believe that this poem represents how temporary childhood is.

Adeeba from United States

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