EARLY YEARS Sylvia Plath was born on October 27, 1932. In 1940, her father died as a result of complications from diabeteswhen she was only eight years old. As a result, his strictness and deathdefined her poems and her relationships. She started a journal at age eleven and published her poems inregional newspapers and magazines.
COLLEGE She attended Smith College where she was an exceptional student,but in 1953 she left a note saying she was going for a walk. She took ablanket, a bottle of sleeping bills and water to the cellar and fellunconscious. Her mother only waited a few hours to phone the policeand she was found the next day.
MARRIAGE AND DEATH After graduating form Smith College, she went to Cambridge on aFulbright Scholarship where she met Ted Hughes. They married a fewmonths later. In 1960, her first collection of poems, Colossus, was published. After Ted left Plath in 1962 she fell into a deep depression. In 1963she published an autobiography under Vitoria Lucas. On February 11, 1963, Plath wrote a note to her downstairs neighborand then committed suicide using her gas oven.
BACKGROUND OF THE POEM The poem was written by Sylvia Plath in 1961. It was published byFaber and Faber eight years after her death in 1971 as part of thecollection Crossing the Water.
CONTINUED BACKGROUND Point of View: First Person Speaker: The mirror/lake Type: Free Verse
THEME Pain comes with losing ones innocence and youth because societyvalues beauty and youthfulness more than the truth.
FIRST STANZAI am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.Whatever I see I swallow immediatelyJust as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.I am not cruel, only truthful,The eye of a little god, four-cornered.Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so longI think it is part of my heart. But it flickers.Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
SECOND STANZANow I am a lake. A woman bends over me,Searching my reaches for what she really is.Then she turns to those liars, the candle or the moon.I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.I am important to her. She comes and goes.Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman.Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.