for Susan O’Neill Roe

What a thrill —-
My thumb instead of an onion.
The top quite gone
Except for a sort of hinge

Of skin,
A flap like a hat,
Dead white.
Then that red plush.

Little pilgrim,
The Indian’s axed your scalp.
Your turkey wattle
Carpet rolls

Straight from the heart.
I step on it,
Clutching my bottle
Of pink fizz. A celebration, this is.
Out of a gap
A million soldiers run,
Redcoats, every one.

Whose side are they one?
O my
Homunculus, I am ill.
I have taken a pill to kill

The thin
Papery feeling.
Kamikaze man —-

The stain on your
Gauze Ku Klux Klan
Darkens and tarnishes and when
The balled
Pulp of your heart
Confronts its small
Mill of silence

How you jump —-
Trepanned veteran,
Dirty girl,
Thumb stump.

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


  1. reallyyy says:

    how on earth was she trying to be racist? was there any sort of racial comment made at all whatsoever? just wondering

  2. sarthak says:

    lol , so u r tryin to be racist now ? Anyway , i bet i look way better than u cud dream of.

    U suk btw

  3. brinna says:

    dude what the hell kinda name is sarthak…so first off your probably really ugly so boo you and second how do you know what she went through in her life seriously just back off and get a life!!

  4. sarthak says:

    Guys , seriously , she doesn’t deserve the fame she has. All you plath nerds, get a life guys. Study maths, physics , business , stuff that will help you. If you continue reading crap like this , you will end up with the same fate that plath did. You will become suicidal and will start seeing death everywhere. Trust me , she’s not worth it.
    Just wish that she was alive so that i could kill her again.

  5. Sarthak says:

    A crappy poem from an emo poet. what the hell was she thinkin off

    If i screw my IB english up , its cause if this shit

  6. katie says:

    I love how she turns a simple cut, something that everyone has done at one
    at one point or another, and turned it into a metaphor of her life.i like this poem that she wrote.

  7. Nikola says:

    I love how she turns a simple cut, something that everyone has done at one at one point or another, and turned it into a metaphor of her life. She looks at her thumb so apathetically, as though it’s just something else she expected, another blow. If Prozac is stopping people from writing more poetry like this, then I say we outlaw it. Sylvia Plath turned her depression into art, something everyone could learn from.

  8. Jacy says:

    me personally i love this peom.. but what fascinates me and really confusing me at the same time *if thats possible* is how she can make us readers pick all these images out of her writing over just cutting her thumb while making the dinner? im sure we have all cut ourselves at one time *if not then get out of your bubble* but it takes a true gifted person to turn it into something so horrible like the Klu Klux Klan..
    3 cheers for her mind!:)

  9. Jennifer says:

    I think the real issue in the poem is not the fact that she accidently cut her thumb, which doesn’t actually make for that much of an interesting poem, but her attitude. The pain of her wide eyed, exhausted indifference. “What a thrill – my thumb instead of an onion”. She looks on apathetic as she bleeds, numb and detached from the situation, and somehow savouring it as a ‘thrill’, an excitement. Her emotions are so real and aching, it makes the writing all the more beautiful.

  10. sorcha says:

    The imagery is graphic yet neccessary – if that makes any sense. Sylvia Plath is a fantastic poet.

  11. Poe says:

    wonderful, albeit graphic imagery…

  12. chikoban says:

    go sylvia its your birthday

  13. michelle says:

    this poem is very good and very well writen! this poem as many differnt metiphorical meanings and it makes you think. this poet is a very good writer and knows how to make a connon incident into a mysterious wonder.

  14. me says:

    i love my boobs

  15. someone says:

    This is really weird cuz i just……….

  16. Paige gregory and Chelsea Garcia says:

    i think this poem is about suicide! Although my class has been analyzing this as cutting you thumb inistead of an onion.

    “What a thrill”- she likes to cut her self takes away other pain in life.
    “top quite gone”-the high points in life are gone.
    “except for a ssort of hinge”- about to kill herself just one thing shes holding onto.
    “dead””white”- losing everythihng
    “little pilgrim”- she feels small, unloved, not wanted
    “carpet rolls”- rapping up your life, dieing.
    “i step on it”- beating herself up over nothing
    “straight from the heart”- feelings are true.

  17. Chelsea Garcia says:

    My analysis of the stanze ;; “the stain on your gauze Ku Klux Klan Babushka Darkens and Tarnishes”

    In Sylvia Plath’s bloodcurdling poem “Cut,” the narrator unintentionally slices her “thumb instead of an onion” in a common kitchen calamity. The stanza above shows the comparisons she makes between her unappetizing finger and the headdress of an aged dame or even a member in a racist secret society. She begins by dressing her raw thumb in gauze to control the rapid bleeding and then recognizes that her grieving digit resembles the sinister white hood of a “Ku Klux Klan” member as well as the tattered “babushka” of a wizened peasant woman. As she beholds her dressed up thumb she acknowledges that the crimson blood is slowly seeping into the thin material which then starts to “darken and tarnish” the once white gauze. A rule of thumb–keep your eye on the blade while dicing the vegetables or it could turn into a culinary catastrophe. =]

  18. Paige Gregory says:

    The stain on your
    Gauze Ku Klux Klan
    Darkens and tarnishes

    Sylvia Path’s bloodcurdling poem “Cut” is about a common calamity that occurs in the kitchen of many homes–the narrator has accidentally cut her “thumb instead of an onion” while severing vegetables. The stanza above shows the narrator’s unappetizing finger being compared to a headdress of a peasant woman and to an evil member of a secret society. To control the rapid bleeding she wraps her raw thumb in gauze, resembling the white hood of a “Ku Klux Klan{sman},” or even the “babushka” of a wizened peasant woman. As she looks at her thumb, a fire of unappealing blood slowly feeds the gauze as it starts to “darken and tarnish” the once white material. So keep your eye on the blade while murdering the vegetables or you might just murder your thumb!

  19. Hark Vonlastril says:

    nice metaphors

  20. Josh Spankie says:

    I think this poem is a great representation of metapors. I am also extreamly sad that she has killed herself

  21. some random kid says:

    What an amazing poem. SUPERBBBBB. it was absolutely splendid. WELL DONE SYLVIA YOU SUCCEDED ONCE AGAIN!!

  22. Steve Mehere says:

    This was an amazing piece of work! it made me jump with excitement when i finsished this masterpiece! i was trying to find that true meaning and i found it! this poem has made me think of all that safety i need to think about when i cook! YAY WRITING! this has made me fell like i can write without caring who sees! i also love this girl named Jessica Koren! she is soo HOTT! she reminded me of the quote “red coats everyone” because she is soo hott!! wow im going to marry her someday and we are going to have 14 wonderful babys! well i best be going farwell! : ]

  23. Jamelia says:

    WOW! This poem was absolutely AMAZING!! The choice of metaphors was soooo outstanding i could hardly wait to find the hidden meaning in the poem! I told all my friends about this poem! they were flabergasted!!! I can’t believe that a writer could think of a metaphor like that! “CLUTCHING MY BOTTLE OF PINK FIZZ A CELEBRATION THIS IS!” CELEBRAE GOOD TIMES COME ON! YOU GO GIRL! BREAK IT DOWN! OH YA! WAHOO!

  24. Trevor Mendelson says:

    Sylvia Plath is possibly the best poet ever invented. I like her and I like her poems. Doughnuts

  25. Amanda Koren says:

    I think this poem was a delight it made me want to jump with thrill and emotion!!! It made me squirm when it said the soilders were MARCHING out instead of saying the blood was rushing out. and if you dont like this poem I WILL FIGHT YOU

  26. lauryn says:

    this poem was out standing
    the metaphors and meanings of this peom were, to me clever and amusing
    in my class we are doing a “hunt” to find out the meaning of the poem and the title
    i am a great analizer and could understand it easly
    the poem is a normal house hold issue by risk
    the risk is cutting something else u have a risk of missing or mistakenly cutting youself
    in the poem it reads” little pilgrim the indians axed off your scalp”
    meaning the finger is the lil. pilgrim and the indian is the knife cutting the scalp/tip of your finger.
    also read” many soliders run , redcoats everyone”
    thats meaning the soliders as in blood and redcoats is also the blood running down her or a persons skin. redcoats (coats) a overwear and blood is black or another color in the body but red wheen on surface of body
    “right from the heart i step on it”
    the blood come right after the heart form the pumping of the heart and step on it meaning with your free fingers or hand. when in the poem they said flap like a hat is a metaphor for a bit of skin left and covering new skin under blood. and “the thin papery feeling… sabotur,kamakazie man” the thin paper feeling is the left over skin from the blood not circulating anymore so it turns dead white and kamakazie man is a person who risks themself or others so the risk of killing something u risk hurting or killing yourself so risk= killing onion and might hurt self= cut on thumb.
    so i really encourage you to read this a figure it out just like me…
    this poem was an adventure and amazement to me and my fellow classmate and we really enjoyed it… hope you do too!

  27. alana says:

    this is the most gourgus poemi have ever read

  28. Hari R says:

    if the poem is read plainly there ofcourse is an obvious sarcasm yet she portrays so perfectly what is occuring as she cuts herself “A million soldiers run,Redcoats, every one.” she expresses her thought so idealistically to perfection it is as though she is inside the wound and she is disecting the stages and explaining it with pin point accuracy of what is occuring at each given stage, a beautiful poem written by an outstanding poet unfortunately living in an unsuitable time period.

  29. NHS says:

    Wow, this poem is great. Great use of diction as mentioned and yes, very sarcastic. If you read this poem the way it is, with a sarcastic sound, then the “What a thrill” and “A celebration, this is” will make you laugh. This poem is not an extended metaphor, but rather, many metaphors for a single thing…the thumb. It also has a nice use of apostrophe–not once in the poem did she really say “OMFG I cut my thumb *sob*” but somehow, we just know it.

  30. jamie mcginal says:

    first of all, i might start be saying,
    Catty, if you are reading, you make me laugh!
    second of all, cut formate and carefully chosen words (ie, mostly monosyllable words) is perfectly put to gather, its almost as if it has been a puzzle, and there’s be a right way to place every word. she could not have made this better if she had tried.

  31. me says:

    wow, its… amazing. plus i actually understand this one. in parts on it she sounds almost sarcastic, catty. i like this one.

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.