Black lake, black boat, two black, cut-paper people.
Where do the black trees go that drink here?
Their shadows must cover Canada.

A little light is filtering from the water flowers.
Their leaves do not wish us to hurry:
They are round and flat and full of dark advice.

Cold worlds shake from the oar.
The spirit of blackness is in us, it is in the fishes.
A snag is lifting a valedictory, pale hand;

Stars open among the lilies.
Are you not blinded by such expressionless sirens?
This is the silence of astounded souls.

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


  1. hannah says:

    wow what a great poem

  2. summer says:

    i think that this poem has all the more reason of death and that she was betrayed by god,she didnt understand why he would take her father from her and he died when she was very younge. Her life was filled with death and her thought of suicide. She wrote about ehr life and what she thought and did a wonderful job on all of ehr poems.Yes they may be dark and scary or sad but thats what she felt and she wanted everyone to know her experience throught her writing.

  3. elis says:

    we know thet sylvia suffered from a mental illness throught her life.she attended to commit suicide several times,and death was always in her mind.she also lost her dady when 8 years old.this poem is exactly about death.everythink is black in her world,black is the color of death.shadows are the world of ideas,imitations(from greek plato),it’s not the real world.little light symbolizes that she is still alive and hope for life,she is not in a hurry…but still,she thinks of death!full of dark advice is a clue in the beginning of poem we see the image of lake,the symbol to which i came across in her mirror poem before. she travels in a black boat in a black lake.this lake is the lake of fate,an allusion from greek is again the world of death and it is cold.i again see a metaohor that see used in her mirror poem,fish.difficulties makes goodbyes hard says she in the lines a snag is lifting a valedictory.stars open among the lilies,she is still in the waters,lily is an water plant,this line has a connestion with the line a little light is filtering from the water flowers,and these flowers are exactly lilies!the sky is open and she can see the stars.stars are symbols of our fates!she can see and travel through her future,her death…yes,death is emotionless,silent,still,dark,terrifying.souls are shocked because of this silence,stilness of death…and this world is the world of DEATH.
    this poem is amazing for me,i really love sylvia’s style.she’s a great poet i think.althougt this is a poem about death,she newer used the word of death!i can see wit in her poems.perfect…

  4. Samantha says:

    This poem made me think about death. If you think about it, you might too. The symbols are really distinct too, but at first they didn’t jump out at me the way they probably should have.
    The river Styx in Greek mythology is the barrier that the souls must cross to get to the underworld.
    The stars are what most draw our attention when somone we love has died.
    The pale hand seems to refer to the hand of a corpse.
    Lilies, however beautiful are the flower of death.
    And the word expressionless? Yes, death has no expression.
    These are the symbols that are the most significant in this poem, and that’s why this poem reminds me of death. Although it’s a very beautiful poem, no matter what it’s about.

  5. Esther Parks says:

    this poem is full of expression and emotive feelings. i never really read anything from Sylvia Plath but this is the work of a true genius.

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.