The woman is perfected
Her dead

Body wears the smile of accomplishment,
The illusion of a Greek necessity

Flows in the scrolls of her toga,
Her bare

Feet seem to be saying:
We have come so far, it is over.

Each dead child coiled, a white serpent,
One at each little

Pitcher of milk, now empty
She has folded

Them back into her body as petals
Of a rose close when the garden

Stiffens and odors bleed
From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.

The moon has nothing to be sad about,
Staring from her hood of bone.

She is used to this sort of thing.
Her blacks crackle and drag.

Analysis, meaning and summary of the poem by

16 Comments

  1. Emile Moelich says:

    What is death other than the gateway to eternity? Sylvia explained it so well. Edge can be a metaphor for gateway.

  2. Nora says:

    i am studying plath .
    please help me with the tichniqes that plath used in her poem ‘Edge’

  3. Lux says:

    Jule’s comment is almost completely accurate, and I’ve been studying Plath extensively for some time now.

    What I wanted to add was that the poem, written four days before her death, is a clear representation of herself and the children, of her children. As the the story goes, before she went through with the act she left each child a pitcher of milk and almost a whole loaf of bread each outside their door, do they wouldn’t go hungry.

    This is one of my favorites, there’s almost too much to say. I’ll complete this comment another day.

  4. solovino marucho says:

    this poem explains the depression state in which sylvia was. i think she was an awsome writer.

  5. Aveo Immortalitas says:

    This poem is clearly about Mary Magdalene. Or rather, the ultra feminine. Check the rose metaphor. The folds of a rose in ancient symbolism refer to (parts) of the female anatomy. There is much symbolism here. They say with knowledge there is power. And with that, knowledge can become maddening. Go figure. I mean that literally.

  6. Michelle says:

    This poem to me shows just how deep into depression Plath was. It seems as though she has taken a step outside of herself and is making a final anaylization in third person, commenting on how she had submitted to society. In turn she had backed so far away from society the only thing left was death. I think she wanted to die, I think she knew she was going to die soon. It seems a shame to me that a woman as idealistic, intelligent and articulate as her lived in a time when women were expected to be wives and raise children or be receptionists or secretaries. Perhaps if she had been born a generation later by the time she reached this point in her life the picture of what a woman was supposed to be would have been different. It’s not that she didn’t want to be picture perfect, it’s that she couldn’t. Even so, sometimes absract pictures hold to most curious and interesting beauty of all, you just have to look a little harder and use your imagination.

  7. Jules says:

    Plath wrote this shortly before attempting to kill herself — however, she had arranged for a baby-sitter to come roughly an hour after she went through the act. The baby-sitter was two hours late, so Plath obviously died. Some say Plath didn’t actually intend to kill herself.
    I think the poem is talking about the suffering women must go through, and how a piece of their children die along with them, no matter how old they are.
    A good poem, but you all need to check out Tale of a Tub.

  8. Stephanie says:

    Plath wrote the poem, Edge, four days before she committed her suicide. This poem is about her achieving perfection through death. It holds a despairing, reflecting tone as Plath reaches the edge of her life. The poem includes simple, blunt statements and the use of the third person. She no longer writes in the first person; the predominant mood seems to be one of indifference.
    Plath opens the poem with two short lines which due to their brevity, directness and lack of punctuation immediately tie Plath’s perverse idea of perfection being found in the dead. This is followed by the line, describing her “smile of accomplishment” suggesting a smugness that she has won against the would that is causing her so much pain.
    The next line “flow like the toga” seems to suggest that once she has informed the reader of her intention her mind will be released. The use of rhyming assonance in “flows”, “scrolls” and “toga” effect this. And then the clipped abrasiveness of “Her bare” linking us bacl to the abruptness of “her dead”. These reminds the readers of the ugly reality of her intentions.
    Plath alludes to herself as the Grecian mythological character, Medea, who slayed her chilren in an act of vengegeance towards her cheating husband. Only instead of taking the lives of her children, Plath kills herself. The metaphor “each dead child coiled, a white serpent” suggests her emotional power of her children. They are both innocent in the diction “white” and capable of being used in a cunning manner in the noun “serpent”. The colour imagery is continued in the whiteness of the “milk” the “moon”, and the “bone” again reinforce the incorruptibility of the child. Added to the colour imagery of red in “rose” and “bleed” and black in the final line Plath, confronts the reader with the colours of purity, evil and life combined. Her vengeance towards her husband is through the harm she will be causing her children as she ends their relationship through her death.

  9. Marie says:

    I think that this poem is beautiful. It makes me think about how terribly lost and sad she must have been to write something so powerful about her own forthcoming death.

  10. Rhia says:

    I for one think this poem is awesome *pokes Linz*

  11. Kiki says:

    this poem holds a despairing and reflective tone as the poet reaches the edge of her life, hence the title “Edge”. plath uses powerful language throughout the poem ans the recurring image of the moon also appears in this particular plath poem, which in this case plath personifies as “staring from the hood of bone”.

  12. Erin says:

    This poem is so terribly sad. I wish I could race back through time and carry her to help. I want to rescue Sylvia from herself. She is so very sad, and her children left with her legacy. Such a tragic story…

  13. LinZ says:

    Im glad i’m a free American so i can voice my oppinion. Sylvia Plath is stupid! This is the worst peom EVER!!! SUCK IT PIGS!!

  14. jesika says:

    this poem just rises above so many others knowing it was her last.beautiful.

  15. natalie says:

    this is 1 ofmy fave plath poems.it is haunting + frightening.plath is rewriting greek mythology.she’s a modern-day medea in this poem-except medea kills herself.plath truely made dying an art asshe said in”lady lazaraus”.so creaive she was!

  16. Taylor says:

    This is about her acheving perfection threw dealth, she wrote this poem 4 days before she commeted her sucide. The moon describes her miond and how it continues to go on though her body isn’t there even the poems names means standing on the brenkof living and dying

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem better? If they are accepted, they will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.