The day she visited the dissecting room
They had four men laid out, black as burnt turkey,
Already half unstrung. A vinegary fume
Of the death vats clung to them;
The white-smocked boys started working.
The head of his cadaver had caved in,
And she could scarcely make out anything
In that rubble of skull plates and old leather.
A sallow piece of string held it together.

In their jars the snail-nosed babies moon and glow.
He hands her the cut-out heart like a cracked heirloom.


In Brueghel’s panorama of smoke and slaughter
Two people only are blind to the carrion army:
He, afloat in the sea of her blue satin
Skirts, sings in the direction
Of her bare shoulder, while she bends,
Finger a leaflet of music, over him,
Both of them deaf to the fiddle in the hands
Of the death’s-head shadowing their song.
These Flemish lovers flourish;not for long.

Yet desolation, stalled in paint, spares the little country
Foolish, delicate, in the lower right hand corner.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Sylvia Plath's poem Two Views Of A Cadaver Room


  1. Emile Moelich says:

    Yes, it was Buddy Willard that introduced Esther to cadavers. Sylvia described it in the Bell Jar.

  2. Selina Demitri says:

    The first view reminds of a part in ‘The Bell Jar’ when Esther is taken by Buddy to his Medical school and she sees the cadavers and dead babies.
    The charcter of Buddy in the book is based upon a boyfriend of hers from college.
    The idea of seeing cadavers is used twice in two different kinds of writing therefore showing that this probably happend to Plath in real life and had quite large effect on her.

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