After whose stroke the wood rings,
And the echoes!
Echoes traveling
Off from the center like horses.

The sap
Wells like tears, like the
Water striving
To re-establish its mirror
Over the rock

That drops and turns,
A white skull,
Eaten by weedy greens.
Years later I
Encounter them on the road—-

Words dry and riderless,
The indefatigable hoof-taps.
From the bottom of the pool, fixed stars
Govern a life.

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


  1. ayah says:

    is there any foregrounding in the 3rd stanza??

  2. aysa jhorna says:

    i think tihs is a poem of sylvia plath about her creativity where she know the power of her poetry tht
    I think this is a poetry of sylvia plath about her creative power of her poetry, that will govern for long years. And she is discovering herself in nature.

  3. krisnaels says:

    hi. i’m writting a english exam on Wednesday and one of the poems are Words.we never analysed it in class, so i don’t really understand what the poem is about. If anybody knows, please reply.

  4. JG says:

    I’ve read that this poem was written after Sylvia Plath heard the news, via words in a phone call from a friend, of Ted Hughes’ infidelity. I’d like to see more formal research on this poem online but am having a hard time finding it.

  5. Jennifer says:

    At first one is taken back by the extreme difference between the title: Words and the first line of the work: Axes. But at times words can be like axes, if they are used cruelly. One might assume that Sylvia was being troubled by something who had said something cruel to her. She even goes as far to compare words with Quartering in the last line of the first stanza. The rings of the tree may be compared to how words effect us over and over again. One might be hurt by words but the initial sting may last for quite some time. The mirror that is trying to re-establish itself seems, in one sense, to represent the effect harsh words have in breaking us up-into pieces. Lastly, “the indefatigable hoof-taps”…what an incredible word choice!
    This poem is what caused me to be interested in her poetry and has given me more respect for poetry as a whole. Thank you for reading my understanding of this poem.

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Your email address will not be published.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.