“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan’s men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)”

Analysis, meaning and summary of Sylvia Plath's poem Mad Girl’s Love Song

74 Comments

  1. crazygirl says:

    the author did actually have a mental disorder. she had it starting in college and through most of her adult life. her book, the bell jar, talks about how she went basically crazy. that is the reason she doubting whether or not she actually met this guy.

  2. makayla says:

    idk what it is about this poem, i seen it in my ceative writing class awhile back.. & i just LOVE it!!!! idk why really no one else really likesd , but i listened to it as soon as i got home, and made my mom.

  3. musicdrawnincolors says:

    mad girls love song is such a bittersweet poem, that i can very easily connect to my love life.
    and zombie, ur an idiot. this poem was written in 1951. they didnt have acid then.

  4. Dandelion says:

    Mad Girl’s Love Song is such a bittersweet poem. She regrets how her love ended up, but does she really regret the love itself?

  5. zombie says:

    it’s about acid, obv

  6. dontia says:

    i love your poem i wish you was still alive to be making ore poems im in love with this poem

  7. analese says:

    i think this poem is stupid although i didnt even read it because poetry is sooooo GAY!! i love how this is so gay say what you want to me

  8. keenan says:

    She doesn’t believe that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Her lack of faith is obvious in that she only believes in what is proven in the flesh and her belief comes from her feelings, like most. She is mad because the greatest love she has felt/experienced has left her and she has no faith in finding a love comparable to that of which she has no more. But she has that love still, burning, just with no way to be satisfied herself.

  9. Nish says:

    this poem tells about the emptiness of love. She had a face in her mind and could not get the person abt whom she dreamt. It does not meen anyone ditched her, she simply could not find a person abt whom she has dreamt.

  10. rawri says:

    emma fell in love doesnt excist its fallin in love when your talking in the past

  11. Jess says:

    I should also mention that she doesn’t even meet Ted for another 4-5 years when this poem was written.

  12. Jess says:

    In response, this poem is not about her husband Ted Hughes. The poem was written in her first collection of poetry right before she started college at Smith College. It first appeared in a literary magazine.

    I’m not sure if she indended this poem to define a lover, or if she meant it to represent the expression of love itself. Either case, it’s not about Ted Hughes.

  13. Emma says:

    This poem to me shows her depression after her husband left her. And she is wishing she could have fell in love with someone different so she wouldn’t have to go through that pain and she can’t depcict reality from her past.

  14. adria says:

    her love is gone and she is experiencing so much sadness that her world seems dead. reality is distorted and she feels as if he was just a figment of her imagination. hopeless, she knows he will never return. time will pass and she will forget him as if he never existed.

  15. Melissa says:

    I don’t agree with the comments about this being only a love poem. I think the beauty of Plath’s poetry is her ability to include a deeper meaning and for me, this poem seems like a haunting plea to the author about her inability to cope with the world’s restrictions and so her descent into insanity, the reference to god falling and the fires of hell fading, emphasises that there is nothing in life, even religion to help stabilise her and that for her the world has become an empty black place full of uncertainty and devoid of love.

  16. jordan says:

    the first time i read the Bell Jar i fell in love with her amazing work. Since then ive read the book over and over again and Mad Girl’s Love Song is my first poem ive read by her and its also my favorite. right now in high school i have to do a project on her and im really excited

  17. Meghan says:

    i don’t think this is a beautiful love poem at all. i think she is depressed because her lover has left, and she is watching her world fall into chaos. she can’t tell the difference between her dreams and reality, and any trust she may have had in religion is gone. Without religion or a man to rule things, she’s left to herself, which makes her feel paranoid. it’s tragic.

  18. danaidha says:

    this poem …touched my soul within and made me feel like i’ve lived in vain till now….

  19. Andrea says:

    I read the Bell Jar, loved it, and needed more of Sylvia Plath. When I read this one, I feel instantly in love with it, because to me it seems of a perfect man and wondering if its true. It is hanging in my locker, and will go with me everywhere in life.

  20. Rachel says:

    I love this poem. I love how instead of writing a “mushy” love poem, she added sort of a twist. Don’t get me wrong, I love “mushy” love poems every now and then. I just love this poem, and I love Sylvia Plath. She’s just below Edgar Allen Poe on my list.

  21. rian says:

    I think she writes poems on her feelings.But i like them alot!!

  22. Bruna says:

    I read this poem and I find it wonderful! I did not know Plath but she is for sure wonderful!!!

  23. becky says:

    i just LOOOVE this poem.
    does anyone know if there is a book that has this poem in it? and if so, can you please tell me the title of the book?

  24. Ryan says:

    This poem is astounding. It makes you really think..

  25. Kari says:

    yes this is tragic but also it is beautiful… love doesnt have to be perfect.. love is insainty …

  26. fierceflames says:

    mad girl’s love song published in a book called Writing on the Water by Jane Slavin. on Ebay siennascloset is selling them. It’s a fabulous book. Read it in a day and a night.

  27. Sinead says:

    the line “i think i made you up inside my head” really makes allot of sense. my understanding of that is, perhaps she was in love with the idea of some one, they were ultimately a facade, and they dissappointed her in the end. she shows an insane amount of relevance to todays socity of women, for a woman of the 50’s.

  28. Addie says:

    Don’t you think that the title, “Mad Girl’s Love Song” could have two different meanings? Mad- angry and mad- crazy. Hmm. Thanks for that info Sucheta, it really made me think!

  29. Becca says:

    the first few lines of this peom are so beautiful, i cried the second i read them for the first time.
    i think she was a beautiful mind and a great voice for those who are depressed in a world where depression is carried such a stigma.

  30. Molly says:

    Its not neccisarially about the first love, just how it feels when one first falls in love with someone else. You wonder if it can be true, and question constantly if this is real. This poem, I belive, focuses more on unrequited love since she talks of the way he didn’t return, and didn’t do as she had hoped. I like the poem, and although not my favorite work of hers, its very very well done and probably the best is terms of style out of all her work.

  31. Lamar Cole says:

    A first love always remains in a secret place in the heart.

  32. Julie says:

    Regardless of whether one can relate to the poem or not, regardless of whether someone likes the theme or content of the poem, one thing all reader’s must be able to agree on is the beauty of the structure of this poem. A villanelle is not an easy form to write, but Sylvia Plath executed it greatly. Also, the lines she chose to repeat in her villanelle make it an excellent poem, even sticking true to the first form of the lines, including the parenthesis. The parenthesis also say something about her meaning, in my opinion.

  33. amberly says:

    this is the first poem i ever read by sylvia plath and i just fell in love.i had to hear more, which is why i’m here, at this page.

  34. becky says:

    This poem is extremly touching… i do believe its about love but has nothing to do with Ted hughes do to the simple fact that she had not met Ted when she wrote this poem. its about her dreams and fears of love… but can verywell still be interpreted as her feelings with ted later on even though it was written a good two years before meeting him.

  35. Die says:

    This poem is wonderful!! Then again, so is all of her work. But it was this poem that touched me the most, laconic, yet so meaningful.

  36. Sonia says:

    Derin, Sylvia Plath has no “bad poems.” although i understand that not everything is poetry, that’s not the case with Ms. Plath. it seems like she found an oasis in poetry. i can relate to her a lot, i know that sounds dumb, but its true, and often times, putting thoughts into words helps. i also agree with another reader that ms. plath was not speaking of love, but of insanity. the “(i thought i made you up inside my head)” directly pinpoints her insanity over men, or maybe a certain man. i think one of the components that make her such a renowned writer is the portrayal of emotion in these poems. poetry is like her diary, she has an entry for every important and semi-important even in her life.

  37. Sarah says:

    I think that this poem conveys a real sadness. A portrait of love painted in her head, that didnt prevail. I adore this poem.

  38. Laura Vognar says:

    I love this poem. I love all of Sylvia Plath though and I don’t think she can ever go wrong. I know people criticize poetry and that depends whether it’s to their liking but I don’t see how anyone can be judgmental of it because it is the persons’s feelings. Feelings cannot be helped. I love reading of Sylvia Plath’s emotions and can relate a lot to them. Something about this poem make it my favorite.

  39. Tim says:

    This by far my favorite poem, of hers and anybodys really…………..

  40. Sucheta says:

    yes indeed bobby, this song was written for someone other than ted hughes.

    an excerpt from plaths diary:

    “March 10(1956):Postscript:Oh the fury, the fury. Why did I even know he was here. The panther wakes and stalks again, and every sound in this house is his tread on the stair; I wrote ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’ once in a mad mood like this when Mike didn’t come and didn’t come, and every time I am dressed in black, white and red: violent, fierce colours. All steps coming up and running past I made into his step and cursed the usurpers that took his place….”

  41. sarah says:

    everyone is commenting about how this is about her first love, and how you feel when you fall in love, and how it reminds them of their love…but i think it has nothing to do with something romantic in that sense. i think this is Plath lamenting about the fact that she married Ted Hughes and he cheated on her, after she had made him out to be this perfect man, and how she wished she had loved someone else instead. look at the title: MAD girl’s love song. she feels like she is going insane over this. i dont think its about falling in love. she wasn’t all that romantic i’m thinking.

  42. bobby says:

    derin,
    granted this is a brief comment block so expression is limited, but your comment is almost entirely worthless. what have you been reading for years that has taken you no further than the most mainstream and obvious poems published by plath. furthermore i can’t believe you have a very competant grasp of poetic forms or the history of the villanelle or you would realize that in form and traditional theme this poem is nearly perfect; more amazingly, written before her studies at cambridge. rather than long after, as your mentioned works, which while good, remain the easiest sells in the collection of plath’s work.
    cheers mate, i suggest a few more years.
    sincerely, b
    post script- emily from israel, sylvia did not know ted hughes when she wrote this poem.

  43. Derin says:

    I love Sylvia Plath and have been reading her for years now. I have to say though, I think this one poem is exceptionally bad. My favorites are Lady Lazarus and Daddy for their sheer power of expression and their powerful imagery.

  44. Megan says:

    Plath has alwasy been my favorite author, and this happens to be one of my favorite poems of hers. I love how she can take something so simple and make it so dark and macabre…masterful.

  45. Laurissa says:

    Im notmuch of a poem reading kind of gal but when i had to research a poem for my english project this poem really jumped at me. Im goin through a hard time right now and just been ditched by a guy i liked.. this poem makes me feel more like im not the only one who thinks like this!!!

  46. bobbyjack says:

    This is cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  47. sarah says:

    i like this poem a lot..came across it when i needed help for an english project..i thin silvia plath is an amazing poetist..howeveru call a femal poet!..shes got so many origianal ideas

  48. Erica says:

    Absolutely wonderful poem. It kinda reminds me of a girl I was dating some time ago..we’re supposed to be getting back together, but things are getting screwed up again. I read this after a long time of not having seen it and it made me cry. I love it.

  49. nina says:

    I think this poem of Plath’s is pretty out there and can fully touch you in one reading. it easily sticks to anyone who reads it. Especially those who’ve had someone they can only daydream about… i love it, it’s my favorite. 🙂

  50. Jess says:

    wow…really great poem. makes me think of this guy i fell in love with…but he never really felt the same way back. really great poem… “i closed my eyes and all the world drops dead. i lift my lids and all is reborn again” b e a u t i f u l.

  51. Jessica* says:

    I’m thrilled to see that so many have commented on this poem. I love all of Plath’s work, but this poem always sticks out in my mind. The villanelle is extremely hard to write, but the great Plath was no match for it’s iambics. Rest in peace, Sylvia.

  52. Emily says:

    Sylvia’s Poetry is great especially this particular poem .
    i think “Mad Girl’s Love Song ” is dedictaed to her husband Ted Hughes because he cheated on her while she loved him, she talks about the distance between them , ” I should have loved a thunderbird instead ,At least when spring comes it will roar back again” .

    The confessional poetry reveals to the reader the poets mental state .

  53. Samatha says:

    it it is a very very very very good job and i really really LOVED IT SO MUCH IT MADE ME CRY THATS HOW GOOD IT WAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  54. pablo says:

    It’s probably as love is. Everything is inside our heads.

  55. Kara says:

    This is, as with all of Sylvia Plath’s poetry, spectacular. I love her writing form and her work is so deep. I wish I could use it for my poetry project, but unfortunately my teacher says there’s too much “innuendo” in it. It’s such a shame really that such narrow-minded people are able to even read poetry like this.

  56. malerie says:

    wow! ms.smarty kasey its VILLANELLE – one word (just to let you know) au revior

  57. Kasey says:

    This poem is a villa nelle, which is one of the most difficult types of poems to write. Plath wrote this while she was still in college, long before she had anything published. In fact, I believe she won her trip to New York to write for Mademoiselle magazine after submitting this poem to a poetry contest.

    The poetry she wrote in her early years isn’t included in “The Collected Poems” because she never had any of it published. Her “Collected Poems” is just a collection of poetry from all of books of poetry she had published, before and after her suicide, including “The Colossus,” “Crossing the Water,” and “Ariel.”

  58. Shandrea says:

    I LOVE THIS POEM…..I THANK MY ENGLISH TEACHER FOR GIVING US THE BOOK WITH MS. PLATH’S POEM IN IT.

  59. sHeRiE says:

    I’m not the poem loving type of person, i like to write my own stuff but when i saw this ( doing an English project) i couldent help but say wow…. thats deep shit

  60. JESIKA says:

    I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS POEM! ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVOURITES!!

  61. Krystal says:

    So, I was looking for some good poems to use in a poetry book for my english class and I came upon this poem and all of the other comments people wrote. Well the instant I read this poem I fell in love with it because, although I’m only 16, I’ve already found my first love… just luckily i found a good one and we’re still together! To everyone who’s had their heart broke, keep your chin up, there’s someone for everyone!

  62. Amileigh says:

    Being only 16 a felt i could really identify with the thoughts and feelings Plath expressed. It is absolutely magical the way she uses words and imagery. ***** 5 stars!!

  63. tammy says:

    I have always loved sylvia.i cant stop reading her literature after i got my hands on the bell jar.she takes everything to heart and analyzes everything with all of her senses.i especially love this poem.

  64. Tiffany says:

    I loved this poem. It is so powerful. It reminds me of the feeling you get when you first fall in love with someone. It describes that crazy, obsessed, knee-knocking, heart racing feeling that you get when you meet that one true love. It seems so unreal that just like Sylvia says, you aren’t sure if you made it up inside your head. What a wonderful expression!

  65. joe says:

    It speak out the true feelings of losing my love,that is “I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead”, even after all those years,every time I remembered those words ,I just am stricken apart .

  66. Ania says:

    This is a great material for a song, maybe some of you will write someday a music to it? 🙂

  67. kirit patel says:

    amazing! i don’t have a word for this poem, this’s a real gold in poem history. i think all of her poems amazing. we should learn from her life.

  68. Caitlin says:

    could anybody tell me why this poem is not in Plath’s Collected Poems? The book mostly includes poems written after 1956, but it has a list of all of the poems written before then in the back. However, I’ve seen it a million places online and in the back of my copy of the Bell Jar. Why??

  69. patricia says:

    when i read this poem i realized that she was talking about her first love and how many girls mistakingly feel when they come across the foolishness of knowing that the significant other doesn’t feel the same way. its always a good poem to show to the young and unaware of what love can do to you. its a lot better than the birds and the bees talk. Hee! hee!

  70. miriam says:

    i love how she puts “I think I made you up inside my head.” between parentheses. as if it is an afterthought. it just fits well, and seems so appropriate to me.

  71. Courtney says:

    I came across this poem one day a few weeks ago, now I’ve got it taped to my bedroom wall. I absolutely loved it.

  72. heather says:

    i think i almost cried

  73. Aaron says:

    Christopher,

    I take it to describe her closing her eyes, and shutting out the world. When the speaker’s eyes are closed, the world around her doesn’t exist. It only exists to her when she opens them again.

    On a deeper level, it’s a fairly powerful solipsistic statement. The world’s very existence depends on the speaker experiencing it. If the speaker doesn’t see (or experience in some way at least) something, then it simply doesn’t exist. This is furthered by the repitition of “I think I made you up inside my head.” Not only does the speaker have the power to create people with her imagination, but they are so convincing that she’s not entirely sure whether they’re real or imagined (hence the use of the word “think”)

    Hope that helps some.

  74. Stephanie says:

    This poem flows together like liquid. I absolutely love it. Karina, you are not alone. Whenever Sylvia put a writing utensil to paper, she made magic.

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