by Sylvia Plath
Stanza 5 Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral
In my Victorian nightgown.
- We've got to admit – this isn't exactly the way that most people want to be remembered. Stumbling and cow-y? Covered head to toe in a floral Victorian nightgown? Please. We've seen pictures from the nineteenth century. It wasn't exactly a high point in the history of fashion.
- It's almost like our speaker is reveling in the fact that she just isn't all that sexy right now. She sure paints a graphic enough picture of her lack of coordination. Either that, or she's just the tiniest bit unhappy about it. After all, what are cows known for? Milk-giving. And if you've ever met a newborn, you probably know that the only things babies seem to care at all about are milk and sleeping.
- Imagine if you went from being a thinking, talking human being with desires and plans of your own into a milk-producing machine. How would you feel? Well, that's the role that our speaker seems to think she plays in this baby's world. Based on her description, it's sounds like she hasn't drummed up a whole lot of enthusiasm for her new gig.
- It's probably good to notice, though, that our speaker's been half-awake, anticipating the time when the baby will need her. And as soon as it does, our speaker is up and moving. However conflicted she may feel about the new role that she plays, she makes sure to take care of everything that the baby might need. That's not bad parenting at all.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat's. The window square
- Once again, Plath's simple, direct language creates an absolutely clear image in her readers' minds. We all know how cats yawn – slowly, silently, taking all the time in the world to open their mouths wiiiiiiiiide.
- That's the image that we get of this baby. And we're betting that you saw something similar. Which means that Plath's imagery is right on the money – it can create pictures with only seven words. Not bad, eh?
- Notice how Plath adds yet another metaphor to her collection of baby comparisons? It's almost as if she's circling around this strange new creature, trying to find real-world approximations of its movements and actions. She's sifting through language until she comes up with a way to best describe it… which only reminds us that babies can't describe themselves. And there's something new – exciting, different – about new life that makes this speaker eager to capture all of its various nuances.
- What's up with "The window square"? You'll just have to wait until the next stanza to find out.