Poem of the Week

“Metaphors” by Sylvia Plath

I’m a riddle in nine syllables,
An elephant, a ponderous house,
A melon strolling on two tendrils.
O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!
This loaf’s big with its yeasty rising.
Money’s new-minted in this fat purse.
I’m a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
I’ve eaten a bag of green apples,
Boarded the train there’s no getting off.


The unsettling nature of “Metaphors” (The Colossus, William Heinemann Limited, 1960)arises from the dichotomy of Plath’s tone and the images she chooses to convey her mentality. Initially, she playfully compares her pregnant state to an “elephant,” a “house,” a ripening “melon,” and a “yeasty” loaf of bread. However, starting with the sixth line, it becomes clear that beneath these pithy musings run the undercurrents of anxiety. Plath begins to see herself merely as a “means”—almost an incubator, with no other worth besides that of birthing offspring. This culminates with the last line, where she realizes that she is forever changed, irrevocably. Her pregnancy was only the beginning of the train-ride; she must now become a mother.

Sylvia Plath was an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer. She was the first poet to receive a Pulitzer Prize posthumously for her Collected Poems (Harper & Row, 1982) in 1982.

7 Responses to “Metaphors” by Sylvia Plath

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  3. Ahmed k. Ahmed says:

    After reading the first line on the poem, I started to get the feeling that sylvia plath was gonna tell me a riddle. From her tone and usage of imagery, an unexpected harmony, comparing her self to being pregnant with elephants, Loafs bread yeasting, melon strolling, and a cow in a calf. She also writes the entire poem in with only nine lines indicating the resemplence to a nine month pregnancy. But the line that I enjoyed the most on this poem was when she said “Boarded the train there’s no getting off”, indicating that theirs no turning back. I enjoyed it so much cause I believe everybody should share the same thought, no matter how much we go throughout we always gotta keep moving forward.

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