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Sylvia Plath’s poetry, like poetry found throughout time; allows the poet to express his or her feelings and experiences through a persona. Yet Plath’s poetry is unique; in that the sound of the poetry also contributes to its meaning. While the poem could be read silently, the poems from the “Ariel” collection and ‘Child’s Park Stones’, both by Plath, had a maximum effect when read out verbally. Reading out the poems aloud allows the reader, responder or audience to capture the scene and truly appreciate Plath’s poetry. The sound in Plath’s poetry gives it another dimension and a deeper layer. While also utilising the sound of the poetry; Plath also employs various literary devices to her poetry. For example, Lady Lazarus from the “Ariel” collection describes the suicide attempts that the persona undergoes. While critics may claim that the persona is actually Sylvia Plath herself, we must keep in mind that the persona acts as a “mask” for the poet; even though the content of the poem may be remarkably reminiscent of the poet’s own life. Plath uses assonance in the sixth stanza of Lady Lazarus. This is in the three words “grave cave ate”. It has the effect of emphasing those words in particular, and the whole line that encompasses those three words. The use of the assonance also draws the responder’s attention. On closer inspection of the phrase “grave cave ate”, the “a’s” in the words are the long vowel versions. This is typical of Sylvia Plath’s poetry, where she utilises a lot of the long vowels, which tends to make the poem slow down; and adds to its overall depressing tone. Also in Lady Lazarus, the line “My face a featureless, fine” represents the use of alliteration. This is where the first letter of each word is repeated; as detailed above. This technique, like assonance, draws attention to them. Plath also uses a regular rhythm in Lady Lazarus. This is seen when she describes “dying”. “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” This gives this section of the poem a regular rhythmic beat, which in a sense lifts the tone when read out aloud. However, Plath is describing the “art” of “dying”, and this gives the impression that Plath is accustomed to dying; as she has attempted many times to commit suicide. Plath’s poetry is also unique; in that it employs run-on lines. This is where one sentence overlaps two stanzas, and “runs-on” to the next stanza. This is in contrast to traditional poets where each sentence ended at the conclusion of the stanza. The effect of using run-on lines is clearly seen in Nick and the Candlestick; in stanzas 6 and 7, “A vice of knives, A piranha Religion, drinking Timothy Li
Timothy Li . the rhyme in the first two lines is as follows. Plath slows down the poem. without taking a breath. Plath tends to use a large number of longer phrases in this poem such as "Gulps and recovers its small altitude" and "Its first communion out of my live toes". Such uses include. for example. black shoe . Perhaps this is one of Plath's happier times compared to the frequent bouts of depression that she suffered. "you". "through".. in that it affects the way the poem can be interpreted. because when it is read out aloud. "hands". In this poem. Internal rhyme is used in this poem. "Ach du".. "blue". for example. you do not do Any more. else the flow of the poem would be interrupted.. The short vowel sounds make the poem sound much more "happier" than her other poems such as Child Park Stones and Lady Lazarus. Such uses of short vowel sounds include. the most notable ones being the run-on lines which have been used extensively in this poem. "sprat". The poem Daddy. As a result. incorporates some German words into her poem. "You do not do. the inclusion of the long vowels tend to make the tone less bright. "screw".” Plath’s choice of wording is also interesting. By using such a word. "do". her second child. Only when the sound of these phrases is heard does one realise how much the sound of Plath's poetry in general contributes to its meaning. "snug as a bud". The sound of the word "substanceless" itself also contributes to the meaning of Ariel. This gives the poem a "bouncy" feeling to it which contributes to its meaning. Plath is describing Nicholas. These two phrases in particular sound quite long when it is read out. even though it is through a persona. A vice of knives. In the first stanza. Alliteration and assonance are again employed in Nick and the Candlestick with “Black bat airs” and “Christ! They are panes of ice. the reader is forced to keep reading. "Achoo". The poem You're is one of the more brighter and happier poems in the "Ariel collection". "Jew". the choice of the word “substanceless” in the first stanza of Ariel contributes significantly to the meaning of the poem.“How does the sound of Sylvia Plath’s poetry contribute to its meaning?” Its first communion out of my live toes. "Atlas". is Plath talking to her father who died when she was only eight years of age.” By using the run-on line.. also in the "Ariel" collection. This poem uses rhyme on the end of the lines. Barely daring to breathe or Achoo" This rhyming found throughout the poem can be accredited to the extensive use of the "-ou" sounds. and surprisingly enough. Various other techniques analysed in the previous poems appear again in Ariel. it forces the reader to keep moving. For example. as opposed to the internal rhyme in You're. The "-ou" sounds are most commonly found on the end of the lines. "two". In Nick and the Candlestick. Sylvia Plath also makes references to the German language. Plath also uses many short vowel sounds compared to her other poems. "who". "glue". because of the lack of punctuation.
which gives the poem a spooky feeling to its description of a grave with the tombstone. ich" line found in stanza six. While many other literary techniques were also examined. for example. as examined through her poems from the "Ariel" collection and Child Park Stones. Again. Some people may shudder when they imagine the scene and then hear the harsh sound following it. the desperation in the persona is clearly seen. ich. but it was not part of the "Ariel" collection. especially when one hears Plath's own reading of the poem. The Applicant at first seems to be a little brighter in its tone. Plath's poetry begins to blur the line between literary techniques and sound devices. Plath deliberately emphasises the long vowels. when it is read out aloud and the sound of the poetry is taken into account.“How does the sound of Sylvia Plath’s poetry contribute to its meaning?” Onomatopoeia is also used in this poem with the "Ich. "bean green" which could also be a reference to gangrene. and it being "stuck in a barb wire snare". the sound in this poem clearly contributes to its meaning. but as the poem progresses. with the hideous description of various body parts. Although only specific examples have been discussed above. which keeps the poem flowing and tends to make it sound faster. This poem uses many short phrases. Such a harsh sound is eerily reminiscent of the lines preceding it. it can be clearly seen that Sylvia Plath's poetry takes on another dimension. Without the sound of the poems. This gives another dimension to the poem as it suits the overall interview impression created by the title. Child Park Stones was also written by Sylvia Plath. This is a prime example of how the sound of Plath's poetry contributes to its meaning. we would not be fully appreciate the God-given talent of Sylvia Plath. ich. assonance is used in this poem. However. as they often overlap and work together to contribute to the meaning of the poem. in which Plath describes her "tongue stuck" in her jaw. Word count: 1347 Timothy Li .