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Analysis and comments on Stillborn by Sylvia Plath

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Comment 14 of 24, added on April 17th, 2009 at 3:42 PM.

until your wives give birth to a stillborn, then you can appreciate how
disgusting visitors are to a mother who just gave birth to a stillborn
child. they just cant say "i grieve with you" and just shut up.

father of yssay from Spain
Comment 13 of 24, added on January 19th, 2008 at 3:34 AM.

it is easy to perceive the poem to be about a stillborn child, however
plath uses the metaphor of a stillborn child to portray her distress over
her, apparently, lifeless poetry.
the extended metaphor is introduced in beginning of the first stanza "these
poems do not live: it's a sad diagnosis." plath then continues to describe
the intricacies of the poems, and how, technicaly, they were flawless.
"they grew their toes and fingers well enough... and still the lungs won't
fill and the heart won't start"
upon reading the poem, the viewer is somewhat taken aback by the truculence
and rawness of the language However upon another reading, it is the
ambiguity and repugnance that help us to fully comprehend the emotional
distress these defective poems were causing plath. "they are not pigs, they
are not even fish Though they have a piggy and a fishy air."
the change in persona also shows plaths' changing views on her poetry.
the poem commences in the first person " O I cannot understand what
happened to them!" in the third stanza, however, there is a shift to the
third person. "but they are dead, and their mother near dead with
distraction." this shows her extrication from her poetry.
I hope that was helpful in interpreting the poem.

nicolaaaa :) from Australia
Comment 12 of 24, added on June 14th, 2007 at 12:13 AM.

this poem is just amazing.. the way sylvia works with her language.. and
the dead poems and grotesque imagery such as the pickling fluid or the
piggy and fishy air... the title stillborn could be for the stillborn
children of any woman or sylvias poem which is dead from the beginning,
because such a horrible experience, giving birth to a dead child, cannot be
explained with words.

Mell from Germany
Comment 11 of 24, added on April 5th, 2006 at 3:17 PM.

I don't know how you could write something so cold! I recently lost my
daughter who was stillborn. this poem is sad in a disgusting way.

Morgan from United States
Comment 10 of 24, added on February 2nd, 2006 at 11:50 AM.

i think stillborn is an excellent example of the rawness of pure emotion
that is not done better by anyone. Reading plaths poems evokes emotions on
so many levels, i feel it is like reading someones innermost thoughts she
seemed to get personal comfort of some sort by writing her feelings in the
form of a poem. Lady Lazurus and Daddy are excellent examples. This is no
different writing this appears to be Plaths way of dealing with her
dissatisfaction with her full life, her envy of her husbands sucess is
apparent and we can see she is not at all staisfied with her life, poetry,
marriage or anything. This is earlier than most of the poems which are
graphically suicidal but the unhappiness shines through in the same way.

Comment 9 of 24, added on January 27th, 2006 at 11:22 PM.

In any act of creativity, whether it be growing a baby or "birthing" a poem
or painting a picture, there comes a moment of realization that the
"creation" has taken on a separate and distinct life from it's creator,
that it has somehow miraculously come into being in it's own right, and
although it bares traces and roots it's creator, the genetic imprint
perhaps, somehow it has become more than the sum of the literal bones,
words, or artistic medium. That moment, when it occurs, is an epiphany, a
kana moment, when one sighs and says 'Aha'. Once experienced, that point of
recognition when the baby's independent movement is felt for the first
time, or the character in the story comes to life and is not who the author
thought they would be, speaking in a different voice: that feeling is
unmistakable, as is it's lack. Stillborn is a poem of mourning, a lament,
at the missing element in the poems that would turn lifeless words into
'living' creations. Stillbirth is very effective imagery for the process of
a poem not coming 'to life'.

Pip from United States
Comment 8 of 24, added on November 28th, 2005 at 4:58 PM.

Quick clarification on Jessica's comment... Sylvia Plath does not have "a
history of giving birth to stillborn children." She did, however, have one
miscarriage in 1961, after the birth of her daughter and before the birth
of her son. This poem expresses her anxieties about childbirth and her
feelings of inadequacy. But it also extends that metaphor to the creation
of poetry. Her experience is not actually giving birth to stillborn
children, but stillborn poems. The poems "do not live" as she desires them
to. She admits the effort she has put into them, but mourns her inability
to create lively poems.

Emily from United States
Comment 7 of 24, added on November 21st, 2005 at 4:42 PM.

I believe that this poem goes deeper than Plath's stillborn experience. I
think that it talks about thoughts and goals that can just die. When you
first conceive thoughts, before you put forth any action, sometimes they
seem so beautiful, but then when it is all done you look back and it wasn't
quite like you imagined.

I think it's great that so many young people, like myself, are interested
in Plath's work. I personally never heard of her until I was assigned a
project for school, ever since I've been in love with reading and
interpreting her writing.

Comment 6 of 24, added on October 16th, 2005 at 12:55 AM.

This poem seems to be about Silva Plath's discontentment with herself as a
poet and as a person. Though she acheived many great things in her
lifetime, she continuously felt inadequate, like no matter how well she
did, It could never be good enough. she could never live up to her own
standards. This pom partly deals with that. She felt that her poems could
never breathe any life.

Comment 5 of 24, added on July 3rd, 2005 at 10:42 PM.

The first time I read this poem, I thought it was referring to Sylvia
Plath's stillborn daughter. But after seeing the comments from the
Australian girl Jenny, I interpreted the poem to being talking about the
poem itself. As a writer, I often times am frustrated about one thing, and
will sit down to write about it. Most of the time, the poem that comes out
has nothing to do with what's bothering me... perhaps Sylvia was looking at
the poem, with it's 3 stanzas with five lines each. It looks like a poem,
with all of the things a poem is supposed to have, but since it isn't about
what is bothering her, it holds no life, no relief for whatever emotion she
is trying to convey. She could've been frustrated that she spent time on a
poem that does nothing for her, just stares back stupidly from the page she
wrote it on.... I've been there with some of my poems... I'm not saying
this is right... it's just my opinion and a possibility.

Heather from United States

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Information about Stillborn

Poet: Sylvia Plath
Poem: Stillborn
Volume: The Collected Poems
Year: 1960
Added: Feb 20 2003
Viewed: 7363 times

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