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The Relationship Between Mother And Child In Poetry

3974 words - 16 pages

The Relationship Between Mother and Child in Poetry

Although each of the poems in question (You're, Morning Song, By Candlelight, Nick and the
Candlestick and Mary's Song) focuses on the relationship between mother and child, the emotions
dealt with in each poem vary quite incredibly. Each poem appears differently on the page: You're
and By Candlelight are written in nine-line stanzas, the two poems having two and four respectively,
while Morning song, Nick and the Candlestick and Mary's Song consist of six, fourteen and seven
stanzas, each of three lines. It thus appears that Plath is using threes and sevens quite prolifically, as
every stanza is either three or nine lines long (9 = 3²) and multiples of seven occur twice in the total
number of stanzas in each poem. Three and seven both seem to have a particular significance in life.
There are triunes in religion, (Father, Son, Holy Spirit,) science (energy, matter, ether,) spiritualism
(mind, body, spirit,) and psychiatry (superconscious, conscious, subconscious) to name but a few,
while nine is the number of months in a human pregnancy (divided into three trimesters). Sevens
also occur frequently: there are seven cardinal virtues; seven deadly sins; seven ages of man; seven
days in a week and seven seals in the book of revelation.
Although the range of emotions is spread between the poems, they do seem to follow a linear
course as the sequence progresses. You're begins with the persona (whom we can assume to be an
expectant mother) talking to her foetus, and she believes that it is enjoying itself: "You're/
Clownlike, happiest on your hands". This could be a reflection of her own sentiments, implying that
the mother to be is also contented. She seems sure that the baby will be ready to cope with any
eventuality ("Gilled like a fish") without needing to rely on others for support ("Wrapped up in
yourself like a spool".)
"Snug as a bud and at home/ Like a sprat in a pickle jug" gives an impression of immense
comfort and security. This sense of comfort is picked up again later, in both By Candlelight ("Balled
hedgehog," "I rock you like a boat",) and Nick and the Candlestick ("wrap me, raggy shawls".) It is
emphasised by a feeling of enthusiasm and satisfaction: "Right, like a well-done sum." The mother
feels that what she is doing is right, and that she is enjoying it. She looks upon her pregnancy with
contentment, while accepting the way that it must be: "Mute as a turnip from the Fourth/ Of July to
All Fools' Day,/ O high-riser, my little loaf." The mother's recognition that the baby is unable to
speak shows how much she appreciates the other forms of communication that exist between her
child and herself. The irony of Independence Day being the first day of the baby's dependence on
her mother doesn't seem to have any particular significance, but the reference to All Fools' Day
implies that both the foetus and mother are enjoying...

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