Morning Song

Charlie Cox
Mind Map by Charlie Cox, updated more than 1 year ago
Charlie Cox
Created by Charlie Cox about 4 years ago


AS - Level English literature and Language Mind Map on Morning Song, created by Charlie Cox on 02/24/2016.

Resource summary

Morning Song
1 Love set you going like a fat gold watch. The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry. Took its place among the elements
1.1 To compare a child to a “fat gold watch” is surreal. The child is animate while a watch is inanimate. Love is engaging while winding up a watch is a mechanical act. What the simile suggests, is the great distance between the act of love and the fact of the baby.
1.2 Line 2: Plath presents readers with a sharp image of a baby coming into consciousness through touch – or, to be specific, through a slap. As the baby feels, the speaker hears: she uses synaesthesia to describe the baby's "bald cry.
2 Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue. In a drafty museum, your nakedness Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.
2.1 Lines 5-6: Describing shadows and drafts in the "museum" of the hospital allows Plath to play with a metaphorical sense of touch as she describes the baby's arrival. The speaker isn't actually feeling a cool shadow fall on her skin. She just imagines the baby as that shadow.
2.2 Line 5: Baby = statue. Again, it's a metaphor. Strangely enough, though, Plath asserts the metaphor as its own sentence, "New statue." It's as if the metaphorical identity of the infant forms a logic all of its own.
3 I'm no more your mother Than the cloud that distils a mirror to reflect its own slow Effacement as the wind's hand.
3.1 Lines 7-9: Notice the negative construction that's used to create this metaphor: the speaker is not the baby's mother in the same way that a cloud is not the baby's mother. But it could also mean that the speaker is the baby's mother just as much as the cloud is. Either way, though, there's a troubled relationship between mother and baby – it's certainly not the declaration of possession that you'd expect to hear from a new mom.
4 All night your moth-breath Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen: A far sea moves in my ear
4.1 Line 10: The "flickering" of the baby's breath creates a delicate image – one that, like a moth's wings, is barely noticeable, even in the silence of the night.
4.2 Lines 10-11: The baby's breath sounds like a "far sea"? That, folks, is a classic metaphor for the regular rise and fall of rhythmic breath.
5 One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral In my Victorian nightgown. Your mouth opens clean as a cat's. The window square
5.1 Line 13: The speaker describes herself as a cow (or, well, as "cow-heavy"), which suggests that her relationship to the baby is an animal one: she's only there to support its physical needs (provide the baby with milk).
5.2 Line 15: Ah, here's an interesting change. For the first time, line 15 introduces a simile to describe the baby, not a metaphor. Its mouth is clean as a cat's. Words such as "like" or "as" introduce a simile, while metaphors usually don't use comparative terms. Why's that important? Well, it suggests that the speaker isn't saying that the baby is a cat. The baby is just like a cat – which means that, for the first time in the poem, she's recognizing the baby as a baby. That's a step closer to recognizing the child's relationship to her.
6 Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try Your handful of notes; The clear vowels rise like balloons.
6.1 Line 18: Sound rising like balloons? Well, you see balloons. You hear sounds. Once again, Plath uses synaesthesia to develop strong sensory images.
6.2 Line 18: Here's an image that's definitely human: Plath describes the baby's sounds as "vowels," which means that the speaker recognizes them as parts of speech. Human speech.
7 When Sylvia Plath wrote this unconventional poem of hers on February 1961, she had given birth to her daughter Frieda. The mother love is strangely absent in the beginning of the poem. But the mother does move from a strange alienation to a kind of instinctive sweeping emotion, when she lives with the child for some time and when the child happens to breathe and cry; this probably happens after the intense labor pain is over, so that the mother could feel the love.
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