Revolving in oval loops of solar speed,
Couched in cauls of clay as in holy robes,
Dead men render love and war no heed,
Lulled in the ample womb of the full-tilt globe.

No spiritual Caesars are these dead;
They want no proud paternal kingdom come;
And when at last they blunder into bed
World-wrecked, they seek only oblivion.

Rolled round with goodly loam and cradled deep,
These bone shanks will not wake immaculate
To trumpet-toppling dawn of doomstruck day :
They loll forever in colossal sleep;
Nor can God’s stern, shocked angels cry them up
From their fond, final, infamous decay.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Sylvia Plath's poem The Dead


  1. Hugo Weaving says:

    This poem explains that the dead have no more desire for love, war, power, or any earthly uses of this world. They only wish to sink into oblivion and eternal rest. This poem gives the dark underlying message that death is a better place to be than life because it holds no corruption and sin

  2. nPulse says:

    This poem is reinforcing her atheism if anything, the mention of anything biblical is purely metaphorical and contextual.

    She illustrates the finality of death in this remarkable little piece, perhaps its unavoidable nature too.

    I personally think she wants to paint how stark death is, “fond, final, infamous decay” and the absence of luster; no heaven; no real angels.

  3. april says:

    i liked it

  4. dale says:

    this peom was about the future death of herself; Sylvia Plath

  5. Garrin Riggin says:

    This poem does not necessarily dispel doubts about Plath’s atheism. It is
    a brilliant work by someone who is depressed, and may be a plea, a cry,
    to be disproved. Or a kind of wallowing, which depressed people do sometimes.

  6. colton fowler says:

    she crazy but the pain she feel no wonder she writes dark and weird poems

  7. colton fowler says:

    at first i thought she was crazy but now i understand her and feel her pain

  8. colton fowler says:

    at first i thought she was crazy but now i understand her and feel her pain

  9. colton fowler says:

    at first i thought she was crazy but now i understand her and feel her pain but i still think she was a little crazy the pain she whent thourgh

  10. Bill Dixon says:

    Her poem ‘The Dead’ dispels any doubts about Sylvia Plath’s atheism. I applaud the poet.

  11. Tafida says:

    thhis poem has really touched me as it reminded me of the death experience i went through. PLath i thank you 4 ex

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 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.