Kindness glides about my house.
Dame Kindness, she is so nice!
The blue and red jewels of her rings smoke
In the windows, the mirrors
Are filling with smiles.

What is so real as the cry of a child?
A rabbit’s cry may be wilder
But it has no soul.
Sugar can cure everything, so Kindness says.
Sugar is a necessary fluid,

Its crystals a little poultice.
O kindness, kindness
Sweetly picking up pieces!
My Japanese silks, desperate butterflies,
May be pinned any minute, anesthetized.

And here you come, with a cup of tea
Wreathed in steam.
The blood jet is poetry,
There is no stopping it.
You hand me two children, two roses.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Sylvia Plath's poem Kindness

13 Comments

  1. Emily says:

    this poem is so good you would have a hard time discribing it

  2. Adel says:

    I think it is important to remember that when Plath wrote this poem there was no date planned for her suicide, she did not view her life as imminently ending. Her wall calendar attests to this; appointments and meetings were planned ahead of time. Her suicide was committed in a dark moment of frustration and despair, not on an assigned date and time.

    I see the poem as a poke in the eye to Hughes, a riposte to his gruesome play “Difficulties of a Bridegroom” which had been broadcast two weeks earlier and in which a rabbit (Plath) is hit by a car and then traded for two roses which he offers as a gift to his mistress.

    Plath is addressing Hughes himself, he is Kindness, the lines: “And here you come, with a cup of tea
    Wreathed in steam” is stating, “your threats are nothing but hot air” and Hughes is evaporated and de-masculinized, having unintentionally bestowed upon Plath, the greatest gift of all, children and “the blood jet of poetry.”

  3. Laura says:

    Sorry but do you know the name of the play please that Ted Hughes wrote? I am very interested in Sylvia Plath and her poetry. Thank you

  4. Sinick says:

    porque plath tiene mucho “kindness”, ella debe chupar mi pinga enorme.

  5. nigel says:

    plath simply pains the readers here with her infallible yet pathetic problems of how she sees no kindness in her life. the poem is essentially very sarcastic and the term kindness is used very loosely. her children here are portrayed as the sufferers and she values even their cries that they are perhaps suffering due to her inadequacy as a mother. it seems that plath did not have the intelligence to realize that “hey at least if i stick around in the world, maybe my kids will have a mother” and for some reason only empathized with their helplessness in her inadequacy of a mother instead of actually doing something about it; moreover, to makes matters worse, she kills herself and now her kids don’t even have a mother at all. the only kindness in this poem is that which sylvie receives from her children; it is the only kindness she deserves. the only kindness she gets from the world is that from readers who bask in the sun of satisfaction whose core is the riddance of plath.

  6. Me says:

    kindess is an abstract idea used by plath to describe the woman who was helping her in her final days. She was there to help with the children and this degraded Plath’s sense of herself as a mother, the fact that she was unable to care for her own children adequatly. Plath cherished her motherhood and to have another woman intrude with her superficial fixes for everything was hard for her to bear.

  7. Anisha says:

    In the first paragraph, kindness is personified as a woman who is kind on the outside but not on the inside. This is the sense given due to the intense use of diction that shows only the outside appearance and nothing on the inside, ‘mirror’ or ‘window’…by window, she refers to the reflection of the window in which the smiles are filled. But even if she meant that the smiles filled in the window are what are seen by others outside, either way it talks nothing of deeper personality. It is talking about appearance or first impression. These are all superficial, not deep or so-called real things. In the second paragraph she talks about things under further depth and reality, such as, ‘cry of a child’ or ‘a rabbit’s cry’ or ‘no soul’. And then she goes back to the superficial talk of the woman kindness, that by eating something sweet like sugar everything will be alright, ‘Sugar can cure everything, so Kindness says.’ In the third paragraph certains words such as, ‘desperate’, ‘anesthetized’, or ‘Japanese’ stand out. The first word describes pressure (which agrees with the previous comments that her desire to end her life is increasing) and the second word is the sense of sleep but temporarily…i believe her idea of committing suicide would be her way to get back to reality. A shock to lead to back to reality. And so a temporary escape. And the third word, ‘japanese’, i believe describes how insecure she feels. She is talking about things she has no understanding in, it shows her confusion and height of insecurity and vulnerability. And in the final paragraph, you can tell that her desperation is increasing due to phrases such as, ‘The blood jet’ or ‘There is no stopping it’ but one can also tell that her only barrier that holds her from desperation to commit suicide are her children due to this phrase, ‘You hand me two children, two roses’. this shows that she practically blames God or even Hughes who has given her two roses that she can’t leave behind because they are like love gifts to her and, by knowing her biography, one would know that she doesn’t want to leave love. She is attached to love. The fact that she does commit suicide shows how depressed she was that even her utmost desire for love, which she was granted, wasnt enough.

  8. SJ says:

    Well I believe through this poem Plath states that kindness is superficial “The blue and red jewels of her rings smoke/In the windows, the mirrors/Are filling with smiles.” and it is this kindness, that allows her not to follow on with her passion “The blood jet is poetry”. Kindness also represents the conventional woman “Dame Kindness”. “Dame” connoting a respected motherly figure. If we assume that the persona of the poem is Plath herself, we can say that she no longer has the ‘normal’ feeling emotions for example of that of a mother “What is so real as the cry of a child?/A rabbit’s cry may be wilder” and
    “You hand me two children, two roses.”

  9. NHS says:

    There are some facts that we must know before reading a poem like this. First, she wrote this one week before or her suicide, which means that this poem is not a nice poem and it will have some dark connotation (although most of her poems do too). Second, it is the fact that she later on commit suicide. This poem is really about how she cared about her children…in which case where she cannot commit suicide to end her pain because that would leave her children behind. It infers that up to this point, the only thing that is standing between her life and death is her children. However…so far is the clue. In the last stanza, she talks about how the pain has been bottled up so soon (the steam from the tea, pressure, and the blood jet, possible blood letting, or release of pressure). “There is no stopping it,” the release must come somewhere. In some ways, it foreshadows her suicide.

  10. juliette says:

    i agree with what David said. it gives the poem a brighter view.

  11. Allyce says:

    This poem is actually about the isolation of someone who has a mental disability. Plath has effectively made kindness untouchable by referring to her as smoke and a mirror – she can see it but she can’t reach it. By giving kindness human qualities she ultimately conveys the message that she cannot feel human kindness and this is contributes to her mental state. The last line “You hand me two children, two roses.” sums up this theory. Her final attempt at happiness is children and although they are compared to roses which are a thing of wonder and beauty, the abrupt end suggests that it is actually the thorns and the fact that the beauty will eventually fade and die that Plath is associating them with. This is one of the last poems Sylvia wrote before she died – so although she loves her children she knows she is unstable and depressed and even they cannot save her.

  12. Ariel says:

    The “Kindness” in this poem seems to connotate childbirth.

  13. David says:

    The best way to understand the poem is to imagine your self having a bad day and coming home and wile you sit at the table and your mother comes along nicely with some cookies and a hot cup of tea as if everything is alwright.

Leave a Reply to juliette Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

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 by Sylvia Plath better? If accepted, your analysis 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.