Elm Speaks By Plath

.. ater, in stanza ten she is “inhabited by a cry”, the cry signifies the her need for love. Afterwards, in stanza eleven the”dark thing” she is afraid of represents the need for love she feels inside. Lastly, the “knowledge” she has become “incapable of” in stanza thirteen symbolizes that she can no longer stand the pain she has learned to accept. The metaphors Plath uses throughout the poem help to create a clear image of the hurt she feels within. “The Elm Speaks” fits many of the characteristics of a villanelle.

A villanelle is a type of poem having only two strategically placed inner rhymes. This poem has one at the beginning and one at the end. The first are fear and hear in the third and fourth line, and the second will and kill are in lines forty-one and forty-two. When the words she chose are put together; fear, hear, will, and kill, they generate the idea that the fear you are hearing in her will kill her. This makes it clear that they are very carefully chosen and placed. Also, villanelle stanzas are always tercets, which is true throughout this poem. Finally, in most villanelles, the first and third line in each stanza have the same number of syllables.

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In “The Elm Speaks” this is only true in three of the stanzas. First, in stanza seven they each have eleven syllables. Second, in stanza thirteen, each consists of ten syllables. At the end, in the fourteenth stanza each line contains only six syllables. The meter in the poem from the first line to the last is completely chaotic, which can be seen in the following: I know the bottom, she says.

I know it with my great tap root. It is what you fear. I do not fear it; I have been there. Is it the sea you hear in me. Its dissatisfactions? Or the voice of nothing that was your madness? Love is a shadow.

How you lie and cry after it! Listen. These are its hooves. It has gone off, like a horse. All night I shall gallop thus, impetuously, Till your head is a stone, your pillow a little turf, Echoing, echoing. Or shall I bring you the sound of poisons? This is rain now, its big hush.

And this is the fruit of it: tin-white, like arsenic. I have suffered the atrocity of sunsets. Scorched to the root, My red filaments burn and stand, a hand of wires. Now I break up in pieces that fly about like clubs. A wind of such violence.

Will tolerate no bystanding; I must shriek The moon, also, is merciless; she would drag me Cruelly, being barren. Her radiance scathes me. Or perhaps I have caught her. I let her go. I let her go.

Diminished and flat, as after radical surgery. How your bad dreams possess and endow me! I am inhabited by a cry. Nightly it flaps out, Looking, with its hooks, for something to love. I am terrified by this dark thing That sleeps in me; All day I feel its soft, feathery turnings, its malignity. Clouds pass and disperse.

Are those the faces of love, those pale irretrievable? Is it for such I agitate my heart? I am incapable of more knowledge. What is this, this face So murderous in its strangle of branches? Its snaky acids hiss. It petrifies the will. These are the isolate, slow faults That kill, that kill, that kill. The chaos in the meter may signify the disruption she is feeling within herself.

“The Elm Speaks” is a free verse poem having very little rhyme, consisting of many assonance and consonance. The only rhyme throughout the poem, as stated before, are the two inner rhymes, fear, hear, will, and kill. From beginning to end, the poem contains massive amounts of assonance. The most obvious are the Os. Each stanza consists of a least seven or eight Os including the many sets of double Os. Also, Es are very common in each stanza, containing as many as 7 Es.

The most common consonance are the many Ns and Ss. Each stanza has an average of as many as eight Ss and Ns. Other than these few patterns, the poem is a completely free verse poem. In conclusion, Plath masterfully expresses her feeling of hurt, do to the painfully hard years she was struggling through. Because of this, her themes of depression and anger jump out at the reader.

Also, the beautifully written metaphorical language helps to establish the theme. Many of the traits in this free verse poem make it a villanelle. In the fourteen stanza poem “The Elm Speaks” Sylvia Plath wonderfully achieves her comparison with the elm tree, which also suffered during the time of Dutch elm disease, which it eventually died from. “The Elm Speaks” I know the bottom, she says. I know it with my great tap root.

It is what you fear. I do not fear it; I have been there. Is it the sea you hear in me. Its dissatisfactions? Or the voice of nothing that was your madness? Love is a shadow. How you lie and cry after it! Listen.

These are its hooves. It has gone off, like a horse. All night I shall gallop thus, impetuously, Till your head is a stone, your pillow a little turf, Echoing, echoing. Or shall I bring you the sound of poisons? This is rain now, its big hush. And this is the fruit of it: tin-white, like arsenic.

I have suffered the atrocity of sunsets. Scorched to the root, My red filaments burn and stand, a hand of wires. Now I break up in pieces that fly about like clubs. A wind of such violence. Will tolerate no bystanding; I must shriek The moon, also, is merciless; she would drag me Cruelly, being barren.

Her radiance scathes me. Or perhaps I have caught her. I let her go. I let her go. Diminished and flat, as after radical surgery.

How your bad dreams possess and endow me! I am inhabited by a cry. Nightly it flaps out, Looking, with its hooks, for something to love. I am terrified by this dark thing That sleeps in me; All day I feel its soft, feathery turnings, its malignity. Clouds pass and disperse. Are those the faces of love, those pale irretrievable? Is it for such I agitate my heart? I am incapable of more knowledge.

What is this, this face So murderous in its strangle of branches? Its snaky acids hiss. It petrifies the will. These are the isolate, slow faults That kill, that kill, that kill.