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Analysis and comments on Conversation Among The Ruins by Sylvia Plath

Comment 1 of 1, added on May 20th, 2010 at 12:54 AM.

Sylvia Plath's "Conversation Among the Ruins" is one of her less known
poems, but it is none the less for that. Published in 1956, this 14-line
sonnet contains several of the key motifs that Plath exhibits throughout
her works. But first, I noticed that this poem follows the sytactical
format of most of her earlier work. The phrases and lines and relatively
long and the diction and tone is well thought out and sophisticated as
compared with the short, choppy phrases that characterise her later works,
such as the infamous "Daddy" and "Edge". I view this as Plath's slow but
steady fight to regain control of her life from her second suicide attempt
on August 23, 1953. With the elegant lines and attempt at sonnet beauty,
Plath is trying to gather some form of stability, if only in her poetry.
Another motif I see is the mention of the rooks. Plath mentions rooks in a
great deal of her poems, and though I am not sure exactly what this might
mean, I theorise that Plath hold a fascination with the dark delicacy of
the rook; perhaps, she too, considered herself vulnerable. Another theory
focuses on the other definition of 'rook'. A rook can be the chess piece
commonly known as the castle, the dual guardians at either end of the black
and white battlefield. Plath, also, has a recurring symbolism throughout
her works of a royal court. A prime example is her poem "The Queen's
Complaint"
Another motif is the Grecian themes and symbols featured in many of her
poems. here in "Conversation", Plath writes, 'While you stand heroic in
coat and tie, I sit/Composed in Grecian tunic and psyche-knot' I see her
various mentions of Greek symbols as a subtle reference to her previous
attempts at suicide. The Greeks were relatively unique in the fact that
they did not damn suicide but rather viewed it as a noble and gracious
deed, worthy of a hero. Perhaps Plath is intermixing into her works that
she is still unrepentant of her attempt at death and that she finds nothing
wrong with the thought of suicide.
The broken sonnet form with the imperfect format, reflects the actual story
of the poem-a conversation among relics of the past, as broken and cracked
as the sonnet Plath writes. I have heard, too, that this poem is based off
a painting of Georgio de Chirico. De Chirico is often considered the father
of the metaphysical painting movement-the movement which soon influenced
the more modern surrealism. Metaphysical paintings are often characterised
by a strange light which permeats the canvas and seems to pulse over it
like a miasma. Also, there is usually a strong sexual conotation in the
piece; as well as various symbols like the replacement of human beings with
either mannequin dummies or statues. I have noticed that Sylvia Plath has
held an affinity toward the metaphysical and surreealist world of Georgio
de Chirico as can be seen from "Conversation Among the Ruins" and "The
Disquieting Muses", and from "Yadwigha, on a Red Couch, Among Lilies",
which is based on a Rousseau painting, "The Dream". I find this affintiy
apt, as I consider her writing style rather surrealistic itself.

Dani from United States

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Information about Conversation Among The Ruins

Poet: Sylvia Plath
Poem: Conversation Among The Ruins
Volume: The Collected Poems
Year: 1956
Added: Feb 20 2003
Viewed: 11785 times


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