I’m a riddle in nine syllables,
An elephant, a ponderous house,
A melon strolling on two tendrils.
O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!
This loaf’s big with its yeasty rising.
Money’s new-minted in this fat purse.
I’m a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
I’ve eaten a bag of green apples,
Boarded the train there’s no getting off.
Syllables are of course the nine months of gestation during which time most women move through many stages which can range from the joy of anticipation to the awful heaviness pressing of your bladder making any comfortable position in rest nearly impossible. Is she the tenor, or is the unborn child? She offers us many vehicles: The metaphor I like best is the melon strolling on two tendrils.
A woman expecting a baby
As an artist I often put a secret thing in my paintings. You know, such as a ladybug or tiny item that no one knows but me. When someone catches my secret I am pleased. So is how I read Metaphors. Note that when Sylvia left home for England she was a carefree vivacious young girl. When she came back from England she was a changed and depressed person who bordered on mental disease. If you are interested in her secret it is revealed in the order of the lines.
Sylvia knew her metaphors very well. She was a master in that field.
This poem is definitely about how unhappy Plath was in the latter stages of
her pregnancy. Using terms like ‘elephant’ (think of Hemingway in Hills
Like White Elephants), ‘ponderous house’ and ‘fat purse’, Plath is
describing just how she feels. These metaphors, coupled with the ‘bag of
green apples’, which not only bloat you, but turn your stomach sour paint a
picture of a woman who feels dreadful. There is so much more to be
discovered in these nine simple lines, but suffice it to say that Plath
felt she had no control over her life at this point (‘there’s no getting
off’) – and any woman who has been pregnant can understand that there comes
a point when you feel that you are merely a vessel for this ‘red fruit’.
Plath was a desperately unhappy woman, and this is only too obvious in this
slyvia plath has beautifully written the poem to describe
the pain and suffering of women during pregnancy. However, I feel that she has exaggerated the feelings which may create a kind of fear among newly married brides and other women expecting child.