I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it—-

A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot

A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.

Peel off the napkin
0 my enemy.
Do I terrify?—-

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.

Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me

And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.

This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.

What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see

Them unwrap me hand and foot
The big strip tease.
Gentlemen, ladies

These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,

Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.

The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut

As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

Dying
Is an art, like everything else,
I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I’ve a call.

It’s easy enough to do it in a cell.
It’s easy enough to do it and stay put.
It’s the theatrical

Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:

‘A miracle!’
That knocks me out.
There is a charge

For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart—-
It really goes.

And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood

Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.

I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby

That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

Ash, ash —
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there—-

A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.

Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Beware
Beware.

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Sylvia Plath's poem Lady Lazarus

29 Comments

  1. tahiri muhammed attaellah says:

    in fact s.plath was need an protector.without forget that she is in flower age (20-30) she can be more confedence with someone because the right reason was the isolation

  2. Reza says:

    The imagery used throughout the poem is associated with the treatment of the Jews by the Nazis in concentration camps during World War II. Plath addresses the inhumanity of the situation, using such phrases as “A cake of soap,/A wedding ring,/A gold filling” to represent a human being. Plath also alludes to the medical experimentation that was practiced by the Nazi doctors. Plath has often been criticized for relating her hardships to that of the Jews. After all, she grew up in a relatively stable and affluent home and received an excellent education; her suffering was in her mind. Plath said specifically that her poems had come:

    out of the sensuous and emotional experiences I have, but I must say that I cannot sympathize with these cries from the heart that are informed by nothing except a needle and a knife, or whatever it is. I believe that one should be able to control and manipulate experiences, even the most terrifying, like madness, being tortured, this sort of experience, and one should be able to manipulate these experiences with an informed and intelligent mind. I think personal experience is very important, but certainly it shouldn’t be a shut-box and mirror-looking, narcissistic experience. I believe it should be relevant, and relevant to the larger things, the bigger things such as Hiroshima and Dachau and so on.

  3. Reza says:

    The imagery used throughout the poem is associated with the treatment of the Jews by the Nazis in concentration camps during World War II. Plath addresses the inhumanity of the situation, using such phrases as “A cake of soap,/A wedding ring,/A gold filling” to represent a human being. Plath also alludes to the medical experimentation that was practiced by the Nazi doctors. Plath has often been criticized for relating her hardships to that of the Jews. After all, she grew up in a relatively stable and affluent home and received an excellent education; her suffering was in her mind. Plath said specifically that her poems had come:

    out of the sensuous and emotional experiences I have, but I must say that I cannot sympathize with these cries from the heart that are informed by nothing except a needle and a knife, or whatever it is. I believe that one should be able to control and manipulate experiences, even the most terrifying, like madness, being tortured, this sort of experience, and one should be able to manipulate these experiences with an informed and intelligent mind. I think personal experience is very important, but certainly it shouldn’t be a shut-box and mirror-looking, narcissistic experience. I believe it should be relevant, and relevant to the larger things, the bigger things such as Hiroshima and Dachau and so on.

  4. Vin says:

    Sylvia Plath almost killed herself when she was ten by accident. In the first stanza she declares that she tries to commit suicide every ten years. “I have done it again. One year in every ten.” When Sylvia was 20 she attempted suicide for the first time(first because she was trying to kill herself the second time). Lazarus as was previously mentioned is biblical alussion to Lazarus who was reserected by Jesus. She was found in a crawl space under her house and was brought back from the brink of death. She refers to “a Nazi lampshade” which were rumored to be made out of the skin of people who were murdered in the concentration camps. This was put in the poem to show that her internal and mental suffering was as great as that of the physical suffering of the people in concentration camps. This poem was written one year prior to her second suicide attempt. Sylvia succeeded in killing herself in her second attempt. She sealed her children’s door shut; covering every crack with a towel. She then set out breakfast for her kids when they would wake up in the morning. She proceeded to put her in her oven and turn on the gas and killed herself.

  5. joan says:

    i’m not much into poetry but i love this one. i’m always interested in something i can relate to. this poem was quoted in the movie sylvia and i think it’s about suicide. always tryin to finally end it at all but the title lazarus suggests of keep coming back.

  6. sue says:

    someone may have written this already but i don’t believe this is about feminist ideals at all. i can clearly see from this poem that this is most likely sylvia equating her death with lazarus and equating her suffering with the holocaust. she was brought back from the dead like lazarus and didn’t want to be, and also her foreshadowing is quite apparent. she obviously places suicide as a piece of art–capitalizing “Number Three” as if it is actually a piece of artwork? she is burning inside like the jews were burning in concentration camps, and i believe this may be one of (if not the best) of plath’s poems.

  7. S G says:

    I thought that the reference to Lazarus was biblical – Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, who was brought back from the dead by Jesus. Comments?

  8. Anna Regan says:

    LADY LAZARUS

    This poem is about a vulnerable person, sylvia, who despite being strong/immortal? was vying for the blessing of others. e.g. father/ Ted
    Lazarus relied on another to be raised.
    So despite the seeming anger/strength individuality in the author there was never that true autonomy /independance.
    The suicide attempts reflect this hopelessness at achieving self worth independant of the man.
    Hence the last line: and i eat men like air
    men being likened to an eternal/essential thing
    YET not sustaining to ‘eat’
    so an inappropriate relation to men/

    please post on LAZARUSpoem analysis for me* the page is down on my server

  9. tarya says:

    this poem is by far one of my favorites i was able to analyze this very easily and even connect with it on a deep level. i love poems about suicide and depression for a couple of reasons one i can relate to them and 2 i like poems that are riddled with emotion. i feel the deeper the more pain or compassion the better it connects with the reader on many levels. i love this poem if only the great sylvia plath was here today to see how far her work has come

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