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Sylvia Plath

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Homework for amberinoside
Added by: Soundsnatcher
What does the poem mean? The easy and correct answer is - I don't know. Another easy answer is - it's about kindness, personified as a gentle lady. Blue and red smoking rings? I don't know, but it engages the senses. Mirrors filling with smiles? Well, whose face is in the mirror?

Cry of a child? Self-explanatory. Rabbit's cry? Ever heard a rabbit's cry, wounded or caught by a coyote? Chilling and human-like, but we believe animals don't have souls. Sweetness as medicine? You don't need me here. Poultice for a wound? Come on.

Japanese silks, desperate butterflies? Plath was paralyzed by depression, ever had it? I have; You can't even get up and dress yourself.

Cup of tea? Just that, laced with sugar no doubt, wreathed in steam or maybe ringsmoke.

Blood jet is poetry? Yes, it IS! There's no stopping it? Yes, there is, but for God's sake don't do it.

"You hand me two children, two roses" - real children personified as flowers.

The End

(good luck.)
I love this one"
Added by: Samuel Biagetti
I'm a huge lover of Plath (maybe you can tell) and I consider this one of my three or four favorite poems. Written ten days before she died, it seems to me to be about the women, such as Winifred Davies and Susan O'Neal Roe, who came to Sylvia's home in London during that last few months of her life to help with the house and the children. It shows how they have very good intentions and want to help, and Sylvia appreciates it, but they have no idea what she's going through. The personification of Kindness, though lovable, is comically naive -- "Sugar can cure everything, so Kindness says." She even has such a bad grasp of the situation that when she tries to clean up, she's likely just to do more damage -- ". . . sweetly picking up pieces! My Japanese silks . . . may be pinned any minute . . ." (This feeling may also be understood by anyone who has had a friend or parent try to rearrange their stuff for them.) As for the smoke, smoke is often used by Plath as a symbol of comfort and softness -- she started smoking in the last months of her life (even though she felt it was unhealthy), on a doctor's recommendation, to calm her nerves, which to me is a perfect reflection of the irony that Plath saw in the ways people tried to help her. As for the other images, they may be very inscrutable, but the spirit of the poem can still be understood if one just goes with the flow.

Personally, I can't help being electrified again and again by the exaggerated effusiveness of the second line, and by the inspiringly shocking and blunt declaration of the second-to-last line, which to me is a statement of the power with which art can come out of one's soul, even when the person knows it is draining them, and when it is completely out of synch with their mundane lives. I see "Kindness" as a celebration of the small and great pleasures that Plath continued to appreciate, though with serious reservations, even as she approached suicide.
Added by: Megan
some obsevartions that i have made, trying to make sense of this poem:
I think it relates to the role perscribed for women in society--being the kind "mother woman," the person who dedicates themselves to their home and their children. The speaker in this poem tries to listen to that expectation, to the personification of Dame Kindness. I feel that the "japenese silks, desparate butterflies/ may be pinned any minute anaesthetized" related to what happens to creativity and a woman's (or the speaker 's specifically) when she tries to comply with the role of Dame Kindness. The urge to create and be powerful is like the desparate butterfly, pinned to card to be analyzed rather like a bug display. So, there are these two sides to the speaker--she feels urged to be like Dame Kindess and also the desperation of wanting to create and to feel. But in the end, it seems to me, that their is a happy solution--because the speaker mentions poetry and how powerful it is...directly after this, Plath concludes with Dame Kindness handin her speaker two children (part of the societal expectations of women) and Plath uses an appositive phrase (i think that is what it is called:) ) to conflate the children with roses, something passionate and of nature and therefor more in alignment with the butterflies of creativity. In the end, it seems to me, that the speaker is able to see her children and mothering as something creative as well, as another expression of herself. It rather reminds me of "The Yellow Wallpaper"....
Heart Wrenching
Added by: Allyce
This poem is actually about the isolation of someone who has a mental disability. Plath has effectively made kindness untouchable by referring to her as smoke and a mirror - she can see it but she can't reach it. By giving kindness human qualities she ultimately conveys the message that she cannot feel human kindness and this contributes to her mental state. The last line "You hand me two children, two roses." sums up this theory. She is so depressed that she fails to feel the happiness her children should bring her. "What is so real as the cry of a child?" suggests that a mother's love for her children in the most powerful and natural of emotions - one that Sylvia has become detached from. This is one of the last poems Sylvia wrote before her tradgic death - when she knew that nothing, not even her children, could save her.
Added by: Jessica
well if u actually read the poem then maybe u could figure out what its about, its really not that difficult. she is referring to all the people that tried to help her during her tough times, but the scarcasim bout 'dame kindness' is saying how cupsof tea and sugar dont really fix anything they are just ways of making peace. the references to her children are there because at the time her children were the only things that meant anything to her. so yeh if any of u actually read the poem you would see that clearly this is what it means.

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