Blameless as daylight I stood looking
At a field of horses, necks bent, manes blown,
Tails streaming against the green
Backdrop of sycamores. Sun was striking
White chapel pinnacles over the roofs,
Holding the horses, the clouds, the leaves

Steadily rooted though they were all flowing
Away to the left like reeds in a sea
When the splinter flew in and stuck my eye,
Needling it dark. Then I was seeing
A melding of shapes in a hot rain:
Horses warped on the altering green,

Outlandish as double-humped camels or unicorns,
Grazing at the margins of a bad monochrome,
Beasts of oasis, a better time.
Abrading my lid, the small grain burns:
Red cinder around which I myself,
Horses, planets and spires revolve.

Neither tears nor the easing flush
Of eyebaths can unseat the speck:
It sticks, and it has stuck a week.
I wear the present itch for flesh,
Blind to what will be and what was.
I dream that I am Oedipus.

What I want back is what I was
Before the bed, before the knife,
Before the brooch-pin and the salve
Fixed me in this parenthesis;
Horses fluent in the wind,
A place, a time gone out of mind.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Sylvia Plath's poem The Eye-Mote


  1. Katherine says:

    The Eye-Mote was written after an actual experience, where Plath did have a splinter in her eye, and took weeks to recover from it. While some of it may be interpreted as metaphoric, it is largly based on her actual recovery

  2. Jed Wang says:

    You want analyzation? Can’t do it, but I’ve got analysis.
    This poem is about memory and how it affects the present. The first stanza describes an idyllic landscape, probably a childhood memory (hence ‘blameless as daylight’; childhood innocence). A line runs over into the next stanza, suggesting the fluidity of memory. The imagery suggests memory by the use of ‘monochrome’, ‘dark’; Only the past and our memory of it can be monochrome, not our present perception.
    Suddenly the poet is struck in the eye, an incident which warps her perception of the idyllic landscape. It is likely that the splinter is a metaphor for a sinful/shameful event involving her parents, provoking her dreams that she is Oedipus (who killed his father, slept with his mother and put out his own eyes in grief). We know that Plath had a difficult relationship with her father, which supports this analysis.
    The splinter distorts her perception of the positive aspects of her childhood, leaving her unable to appreciate the good because she is trying to avoid the bad (hence the hospital- recovery- imagery that leaves her feeling trapped; ‘Before the bed, before the knife,/Before the brooch-pin and the salve/Fixed me in this parenthesis’). What she ‘wants back’ is her childhood before the sinful incident symbolised by the splinter, an incident she cannot escape (‘it has stuck’). She feels she needs her past to hold her in place just as the leaves in her idyll are ‘steadily rooted’. Without it, she cannot conceive of a future (‘blind to what will be and what was’) Note that in the last two, analytical stanzas, the lines do not run over; she is now in the present.

  3. joshj says:

    I have to do and analyzation of this poem. I do not find much sense in it even after reading about Sylvia Plath’s life. It seems quite a mess. Although it can be interpreted to mean something, only a couple line make sense. I really don’t like it.

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