Critical Analysis of “Morning Song” | Poem by Sylvia Plath


Introduction of “Morning Song” before critical analysis :

Unlike other poems of Sylvia Plath, situation analysis in “Morning Song” is not critical. It opens with a delightful image. While expressing love for her newly born baby, Sylvia astonishes her readers. Readers, who do not know that Sylvia can write with optimistic approach, can get awareness from this poem. In those days, she was happy; first reason was unending love promises from Ted Hughes; secondly, Frieda Rebecca Hughes was born who boosted the happiness of Sylvia Plath. This poem is optimistic as compared to other poems of the poet; however, it is also autobiographical. It reveals the personal life story of poet, her relation with infant and her thinking with regarding social problems to be faced by her daughter.

In whole poem, poet’s attitude and mood remain happy and pleased but at the end, she becomes depressed while thinking about upcoming worries of life. Nevertheless, she has everlasting love for her child which will make her feel comfortable in this world. In fact, her child is her life and she sings a song for her.

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Critical Analysis of Starting stanzas of “Morning Song”:

Poem starts with a beautiful mother and child relationship. The poet talks about security of the child. She compares her with a golden watch, which is symbol of her child’s worth. She knows the importance of child in a mother’s life. Starting lines of the poem illustrate the ultimate joy of a mother on the birth of a baby; no matter boy or girl, a baby always gives happiness to mother and completes a family.

We know that Sylvia suffered a lot and in those days her life was not up to her expectations yet arrival of child filled her life with happiness and gave her hope. She directly addresses her child and talks about the precautions when the child was in her womb. She, while expressing her feelings for her says that you were kept like a gold watch; meaning thereby, she is talking about the problems, which she has faced when she was pregnant. She had to take care of her health along with the health of her child. The child is highly important thing of her life.

In these lines, perhaps she is remembering her old days; she also was once a child. Her father loved her but died soon after her birth. She was also once a gold watch for someone but her happiness was occasional. First stanza is about child’s importance and mother’s love for her child. It is not wrong to say that initial lines of the poem are the psychological representation of a mother’s mind on the birth of child.

Critical Analysis of Second stanzas of “Morning Song”:

Second stanza is enhanced version of protection. She again addresses her child and uses the word “you”. Of course, the child could not understand what she is saying but her words are very important. In this stanza, she is translating her happiness to to words. When the child wept and came in the world, it had given joy to her. This joy is delightful not only for her child but also for other people around her. The word “our” suggests that the poet is not the only person who is happy on the birth of Frieda. Someone else is also there, who is sharing this joyful moment with the poet. Perhaps, the poet is talking about her relatives or maybe she is referring her husband but it is sure that someone else is also happy with her.

She proceeds further and says that we are standing here for you. She is assuring the child that they will take care of her. “We stand around blankly as walls” suggests that the poet promises her child a strong protection against the cruel world. Unlike her father, she will never leave her alone. These lines are highly ironic as we know that soon she committed suicide and left her children on their own risks and costs to face their fate.

Critical Analysis of Third stanzas of “Morning Song”:

In next stanza, she expresses her wish to take retirement from her duties. Her joy of motherhood is over. Perhaps, according to the poet, time of her duties has come to an end or maybe she is not feeling the same as she was feeling during pregnancy. Whatever, may be the case, she wants to get rid of her motherly duties. “I’m no more your mother”. These lines are also ironic. In the previous lines, she talks about the protection of her child and promises not leaving her alone in this cruel world but in these lines she is withdrawing her surety. She wants her child to face the difficulties of life with her own powers. At the same time, she is well aware about her child’s weaknesses. “In a drafty museum your nakedness” means the child is unsafe in this world.

Critical Analysis of Fourth stanzas of “Morning Song”:

In fourth stanza, it seems that the poet’s mind is filled with deep thoughts of her child’s future. She says that when she listens to her child, she sees a new world; a world which is full of wonders; a world which is mysterious; the world which is informative simultaneously terrifying. She attentively listens her child. Although the child cannot speak anything yet she understands her feelings.

Critical Analysis of Fifth stanzas of “Morning Song”:

“One cry and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral…”. The poet knows that it is her responsibility to care of her child. It is difficult for her to get up and console her in “Victorian nightgown” and in “cow-heavy and floral” even then she gets up on her single cry and solves her troubles. “Your mouth opens clean as a cat’s” has frankly been used by the poet to express the innocence of child.

Critical Analysis of Last stanzas of “Morning Song”:

Last lines of the poem are traditional; the poem closes with dark attitude of the poet. Happiness on the birth of child no more exists. The poet knows that journey of life is much difficult. She knows that her child will suffer the same as she suffered in her entire life.  “dull stars” is referring the upcoming gloomy situation in the life of child. The poet is seeing reflection of her own life in the fate of child, therefore, she is not happy at all on her fate. She concludes the poem while comparing the good and bad aspects of life.

To conclude, “Morning Song” is definitely an autobiographical poem, which was written on the birth of her child Frieda. She knows that being a girl, the child is insecure and unsafe yet there is hope though very little. Her child’s status in this world and her futuristic difficulties are themes of this poem. Thus, it has rightly been said that this poem is a chillingly precise attempt to describe metaphorically Sylvia’s actual reaction to Frieda’s birth and invasion of her life.

Related Questions:

  • Write a critical appreciation/analysis of Sylvia Plath’s poem “Morning Song”.
  • Write a detailed note on Plath’s poem “Morning Song”.