by Sylvia Plath
Where It All Goes Down
You've seen it all before. Heck, chances are you once played the starring role in this little drama. See, "Morning Song" follows a newborn baby from the sterile, silent rooms of a hospital to its brand-new home. The poem draws us into both worlds, comparing the hospital to a "drafty museum" and taking care to point out the "flat pink roses" covering the walls of the baby's bedroom (5, 11).
We're guessing that the setting of this poem actually influences the way that the mother (the speaker) interacts with her baby. Here's what we mean: if you've ever visited the baby ward of a hospital, you know it's a lot like the windows of a department store. Pretty, interesting things are set behind plate glass. In this case, though, instead of fabulous new shoes, the things behind the glass are fabulous new babies. Whether they're babies or shoes, though, putting things behind glass means that you're setting them on display. You can't interact with the babies (or, um, the shoes). You can just watch them from afar. Maybe that's OK when the things you're looking at are clothes or shoes or toys. After all, you don't own those clothes or shoes or toys. But when the thing is your very own baby, it might create a bit of cognitive dissonance. Why should your flesh and blood be put on display like a new toy? And, more disturbingly, how can you relate to something that seems to be presented to you as if it's a new toy? (Or, as the poet says, a new statue?)
Things change, though, once the baby is set against the backdrop of the speaker's home. See, the speaker knows how to engage with things in her own place. The "flat pink roses" are in the background of her daily activities –and that makes it all the easier to incorporate her baby into those daily activities.
We forgot to mention that there's one other setting for this poem: the speaker's mind. We go waaaay into her personal thoughts – which become a world of their own. Want to see what we mean? Check out our thoughts in "Speaker."