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by Sylvia Plath

Analysis: Calling Card

Severe Grace

Plath writes in many different styles, but this poem shows a style that is evident in much of her poetry: she writes severe poetry, but with a concise grace. While many poets write concisely and gracefully, the severity of Plath's writing makes her stand out. This severity is subtle, but cutting – the mirror doesn't reflect, it swallows. Plath can make even a plain old pink speckled wall important and elegant. As we see in this poem, the subtle hints of severity come to a powerful ending. In the poem's last line, we see how Plath's grace again comes into play: we don't normally think of fish as poetic or elegant, but Plath makes the phrase "terrible fish" graceful – and scary. This terrible grace ties Plath's poetry together.

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