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 Sylvia Plath's poem Edge


  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.

    • David Choate says:

      Or Edge could mean “edge”. . I think her words were chosen not to be metaphor , The Imagery here is not one of metaphor association , in my opinion . Her words that ended up in the Lines are not associative Imagery because we all know death , and if you are not intimately aware of Death , I think of a female archetype when I think about death , I Loved her too much , though , and now I can not go within five hundred feet of her , says the court order .But I thing the word choices are directly as defined in a dictionary , meant to paint the Imagery direct ( red is red , black is black , not red to make the reader think anger , or blood , etc ), not metaphor association , Death is direct , quick , wanton , or unexpected , but is never in need of metaphors to describe it’s astonishing effect on the Living ..I also did not think the ” Grand Canyons ” of spacing between the lines , certain lines , the grand canyon would be a Poetic use of metaphor . I just used line spacing in there to form my example sentence so you can
      “see what I mean “… The Line spaceings did require Me to read it three times before I had the pace of Her Poem right , and that may be intentional , To make the reader , to make them face Death , although it is often not desireable . These are just my opinionions , they may change tomorrow . I never read this until just now . but this was my impression of Her poem .

  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.

    • David Choate says:

      What are saying , She killed herself ? I did not know that . I’m more of a Herman Melville , Walt Whitman , with some Yeats , and Terence Mckenna sprinkled on top . But um, at least I got an honest interpretation of her in me before I found out That it’s a Goddamm suicide note ! I was wondering why the Title was so out of place , She either gave it one , and someone kept it personally , or She did not Title it . My Guess is that She did , and the original Title , or beginning , tied into the ending Lines about the Moon , and the Darkness that is almost , (or is) liquid around the Luminary , cratered edges of the Moon . Especially if it was the last thing you choose to discern the beauty out of to write it as such a great line , a Last Line . Literally Her Last Line . I would have tied it conjugately to My first Line , or Title . This is again , just an opinion , and likely to change ..,, but Poets that people ‘over eevaluate ‘ , spend much more effort trying to interpret simple imagery thoughts , than the Poet did in writing the thing , trust me …

      • David Choate says:

        I was originally searching for a Poem “meanings Edge ” , but that was the words in the Line I wanted , not the title which was ” The Soul of Time”by Trumbull Stickney .
        T IME’S a circumference
        Whereof the segment of our station seems
        A long straight line from nothing into naught.
        Therefore we say ” progress, ” ” infinity ” —
        Dull words whose object
        Hangs in the air of error and delights
        Our boyish minds ahunt for butterflies.
        For aspiration studies not the sky
        But looks for stars; the victories of faith
        Are soldiered none the less with certainties,
        And all the multitudinous armies decked
        With banners blown ahead and flute before
        March not to the desert or th’ Elysian fields,
        But in the track of some discovery,
        The grip and cognizance of something true,
        Which won resolves a better distribution
        Between the dreaming mind and real truth.

        I cannot understand you.

        ‘T is because
        You lean over my meaning’s edge and feel
        A dizziness of the things I have not said. ” I think it fits well in The style , or as a a poem that She maybe enjoyed , and twisted my , to – – post it here for her from out of her residence in the Aether..”

        • David Choate says:

          Just the last verse , not the whole Poem , it’s a very Masculine Minded Poem until the last Line .

  4. solovino marucho says:

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

    • David Choate says:

      Yes , a great Poet indeed . Women Poets always agree , What the Women Poets lack in numbers , they more than make it up with Quality . But not knowing of the nature of Sylvia ‘s demise until after I read it , I still do not think it’s easy to understand if a Poet is truly depressed , or just very empathic , as usual. I’ve read much darker things from Walt Whitman , and He was quite a festive Fellow his entire Life .. now I have to research this Woman .. You see , you Bitch’s drug Me right down this Rabbit’s Hole with you all !

  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.

    • David Choate says:

      Knowledge is not worth much more than delusion , if knowledge does not become Wisdom , knowledge will become a delusion , and one that seems fun to entertain by it’s holder .

  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 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

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