You bring me good news from the clinic,
Whipping off your silk scarf, exhibiting the tight white
Mummy-cloths, smiling: I’m all right.
When I was nine, a lime-green anesthetist
Fed me banana-gas through a frog mask. The nauseous vault
Boomed with bad dreams and the Jovian voices of surgeons.
Then mother swam up, holding a tin basin.
O I was sick.

They’ve changed all that. Traveling
Nude as Cleopatra in my well-boiled hospital shift,
Fizzy with sedatives and unusually humorous,
I roll to an anteroom where a kind man
Fists my fingers for me. He makes me feel something precious
Is leaking from the finger-vents. At the count of two,
Darkness wipes me out like chalk on a blackboard. . .
I don’t know a thing.

For five days I lie in secret,
Tapped like a cask, the years draining into my pillow.
Even my best friend thinks I’m in the country.
Skin doesn’t have roots, it peels away easy as paper.
When I grin, the stitches tauten. I grow backward. I’m twenty,
Broody and in long skirts on my first husband’s sofa, my fingers
Buried in the lambswool of the dead poodle;
I hadn’t a cat yet.

Now she’s done for, the dewlapped lady
I watched settle, line by line, in my mirror—
Old sock-face, sagged on a darning egg.
They’ve trapped her in some laboratory jar.
Let her die there, or wither incessantly for the next fifty years,
Nodding and rocking and fingering her thin hair.
Mother to myself, I wake swaddled in gauze,
Pink and smooth as a baby.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Sylvia Plath's poem Face Lift


  1. campbell says:

    i think this poem is really reflective on her past life and how much she regrets being with Hughes.

  2. Aldrich says:

    I love this poem. The facelift symbolizes getting rid of her past, and starting over. A facelift makes everything new again. In addition, in the poem, i believe that she was talking to her old self, the one with all the bad memories and the flashback. This poem is great.

  3. Byron says:

    Many of the comments here are philistine and ignorant, one downright mean. Two people know something. The peom? dislocation of identity due to mental illness and ECT, dislocation in time to a childhood operation, the anethesia before ECT, the aftermath, age twenty, aging into a labratory jar and then to babyhood, conveyed in surreal imagery and factual imformation. Most likely taken from notes of the actual experience: it makes sense. Good comment Carolyn.

  4. carolyn says:

    Hey, umm melody calling a woman who killed herself a depressed loser, shows an absolute disregard for the dead and an utter epitome of ignorance on your part.

  5. Wierdo says:

    She obviously doesn’t like the idea of plastic surgery. See how she makes the character so deluded and sad. She wants us not to want to be like this woman. I mean she thinks she can start her life over again!

  6. Marie says:

    According to biographers, Plath admitted the poem was about her friend Dido Merwin’s plastic surgery. Yet, I think Plath moves beyond the literal description to create a metaphor for everyone’s desire to renew the self in mind or in body. For more information on Plath and the citation on Dido Merwin, see Sylvia Plath: A Literary Life, by Linda Wagner-Martin.

  7. Carissa says:

    I thought the poem was wonderful. Perhaps facelift was refering to the way she was left after her electroshock therapy. A way to make her happy, in clinical terms. The doctors poking away at her like some specimen. I abosolutely love Sylvia Plath.

  8. melody says:

    this is a weird poem. i don’t understand a single one of them. sylvia plath is a depressed loser who can’t seem to write so everyone can understand her. AND she needs a facelift. so i’m guessing it isn’t literal.

  9. Bridget says:

    Its not about a face lift! she attempted suicide and is in a mental institute…read the bell jar…

  10. kaitlyn says:


  11. coolnerd says:

    i love this woman. i completely agree with wallace…it is unclear what she is specifically addressing, or whether she is literally talking about a facelift. note to margaret…try to look a bit deeper into some of her poems. things arent always as they first appear.

  12. Margaret says:

    This lady is absolutely wack. I dont understand her poem what so ever..but im sure it has a good meaning..

  13. Wallace says:

    This poem is absolutely wonderful. Like most of her poetry, despite the subject matter, is chilling to the bone. And this poem is no exception. I don’t really totally understand whether this poem is a metaphor or speaking literally about a facelift, but regardless, it’s wonderful.

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