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Analysis

What’s Up With the Title?

We've got to hand it to Sylvia Plath. "Morning Song" seems like a pretty innocuous title, doesn't it? People sing songs all the time. This just happens to be one of them.

But wait – who's singing this song? Well, that's where things start to get interesting. As you dig deeper into the poem itself, the title acquires loads and loads of potential meanings. We've counted at least three. And we're betting that there might be others. Here are our top possibilities:

Meaning #1: Check out the first lines of the poem. A new baby cries for the very first time. It's the beginning of her life. Just like morning is the beginning of the day. Get it?

Meaning #2: Now glance over the last few lines of the poem. The baby tries out a "handful of notes;/ The clear vowels rise like balloons." We could almost say that that's another song. Plath even chooses to describe the baby's cries as "notes." Add that to the fact that morning seems to be whitening the windowpanes right as Baby starts to cry, and you've got yourself… a "Morning Song."

Meaning #3: Since this entire poem is staged as a conversation between a mother and her baby, it's possible that the entire poem is a song sung to the baby.

Things get really interesting, though, when you start to think about how these three songs interact with each other to form the poem as a whole. See, over the course of the poem, the baby moves from squalling to throwing out notes that rise like balloons. As she moves from crying into baby-song, her mother moves from detachment into something like love. You could almost say that "Morning Song" charts the dawning of a mother's relationship with her child. In fact, we think we will.

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