Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
I'm no more your mother
Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind's hand.
- We've noticed a peculiar pattern in this poem. Want to guess what it is? Okay, here are a few clues:
- Stanza 1: baby = watch
- Stanza 2: baby's cry = the elements
- Stanza 3: baby = statue
- Stanza 4: mother = cloud
- Give up? OK, here's the scoop: our poet seems to alternate between man-made inanimate objects and natural ones. It's almost like she can't decide whether this baby is part of the natural world or something less than human. More importantly, the man-made objects can be traced to specific makers. Watches are made by specific watchmakers. Statues are made by specific sculptors. The clouds, though? No way any one person can claim credit for those.
- Funnily enough, asserting that this baby is alive and animate is, paradoxically, a way for our speaker to distance herself from the responsibility of creating (and perhaps caring for) the new baby. We've got two completely conflicting readings of this. Hey, no one ever said that Plath poems were easy. Here goes:
- Asserting that the baby is part of the natural world allows the speaker to see the baby as something miraculous. There's way more to this child than even the speaker herself could produce. The baby is now part of life itself – which is pretty awesome.
- Asserting that the baby is part of the natural world allows the speaker to detach herself from the infant. After all, one person can't be responsible for the elements, right?
- Where does our speaker finally come down? Well, read on to find out.