Clownlike, happiest on your hands,
Feet to the stars, and moon-skulled,
Gilled like a fish. A common-sense
Thumbs-down on the dodo’s mode.
Wrapped up in yourself like a spool,
Trawling your dark, as owls do.
Mute as a turnip from the Fourth
Of July to All Fools’ Day,
O high-riser, my little loaf.

Vague as fog and looked for like mail.
Farther off than Australia.
Bent-backed Atlas, our traveled prawn.
Snug as a bud and at home
Like a sprat in a pickle jug.
A creel of eels, all ripples.
Jumpy as a Mexican bean.
Right, like a well-done sum.
A clean slate, with your own face on.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Sylvia Plath's poem You’re


  1. Suzy Taylor says:

    I had heard of this poem from my boyfriend, Chew.

    It really made me think of pregnancy in a different way. Thanks Sylvia, you really made a fantastic poem 🙂

  2. Zangoose says:

    i feel that this poem really brings out the emotions that a pregnant women is feeling. Well done sylvia.

  3. tisha says:

    heart touching and fantastic poem written by slvia

  4. Olivia says:

    I like this poem

  5. Kelly says:

    This poem was forwarded to me by a male friend during my pregnancy. The reference to calendar events – 4th July to All Fool’s Day was perfectly timed for me and so the poem resonated even more so. But it’s the second stanza where she describes ‘A creel of eels, all ripples’/ ‘Jumpy as a Mexican bean’ that you can feel what it’s like to have a baby inside. She also gives insight into how an expectant mother feels towards their unborn child ‘Looked for like mail’ / ‘Farther off than Australia’ / ‘A clean slate, with your own face on’. Never will a woman be so intimately tied to another person for so long and yet not know them. In some ways they don’t yet exist in this world and she can’t seem to find them no matter how far she looks. It’s the most amazing and contradictory experience.
    Maybe this is a poem best appreciated by women although I see some men find the descriptions very effective. To call admirers of the poem ‘stupid’ lacks empathy which is what I think a good comprehension of this poem requires.

  6. Harry Coen says:

    no it doesn’t, you’re all so stupid

  7. bubba says:

    even though I am a guy, I can visualize it and see the comparisons.

  8. natalia says:

    I think that this is a beautiful poem and is in real detail and dept…sylvia plaths poems is very powaful..!

  9. Megan says:

    we did this poem in my english class and i think it is just lovely

  10. sara yasser zaghloul says:

    intresting poem ahich have wonderful meaning

  11. ea says:

    This isn’t about giving birth; it’s about being pregnant. The high-rising loaf is the way her stomach looks and the Mexian Jumping bean is how the baby feels inside her. It’s a wonderful poem; I have to say. One of the few Plath poems I have read that I actually enjoyed.

  12. erica says:

    this is a very good poem i apreciate its art

  13. Lauren says:

    awesome poem about her giving birth it uses such words that makes you think about the actual birth

  14. Jessica 15 says:

    Plath is celebrating the birth of a child. she was used to giving birth to stillborn children (read poem “stillborn”) she wrote the first verse b4 the child was born, you can tell because it says ‘Gilled like a fish’ which is telling you that the baby is still in her stomach. also is says that the child is ‘Wrapped up in yourself like a spool’ which is her description of the child all curled up inside of her. the baby is ‘mute’ inside of her, ‘trawls’ in her darkness, and has her feet to the stars. it is quite obvious the baby is still in her womb. the second verse is also written wen the child was inside of her, it proves it by “Bent-backed Atlas” there are so many different meanings to this poem, and i dont have time to finish it. cya

  15. omid says:

    sometimes when i am thinking by myself,it’s the best poem that i can …

  16. Clair says:

    There is a grace in the image of new birth and pregnancy that ‘You’re’ creates; ‘A creel of eels, all ripples’ is something I’m sure mothers can relate to and the simple hope of the last line: ‘A clean slate, with your own face on.’ to me at least is evocative of the of the peace, however brief, that Sylvia Plath did find in being a mother (A new chance to start over).

  17. Bubba says:

    Unintelligible like yesterday’s message drawn on the beach.
    Overrated – the finishing blind mare on a darkened track. Last poobug topping an abandoned turd.
    The 40th candle on a stranger’s 41st cake.
    Jabberwocky-wanna-seem. Ununderstood, interpreted nearly well with an upside down book.

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