Jun 7, 2010

Sylvia Plath's "Cut"



< delicate digits


In spite of a typo or two, I chose to print Plath's "Cut" from this site because of the readers' comments (are they all students?). I found them consistently entertaining, often funny, sometimes intelligent and sometimes mean. Maybe they're more about social networking than responding thoughtfully to the poem. I might go easy on a teacher who became impatient with this level of analysis, though some of the earlier comments make an honest effort and have merit.

I hope you will paraphrase Plath's train of thought and consider what each new image might add to her notion of a cut. If "homunculus" and "trepanned" are new to you, be sure to look them up.

Also, notice Plath's use of rhyme and other sound devices in a free verse poem. Once noticed, they might feel so exaggerated that they suggest violence. If they do, it's a good example of poetic devices adding to or carrying meaning, rather than serving as little flower decorations on a birthday cake.

I find all those aspects of the poem to be like certain kinds of neurosis, in love with themselves, hysterical, hyperbolic, but at the same time, too menacing to dismiss as frivolous. If a friend had handed me "Cut," I hope I'd have insisted on some long talks and attempts to persuade him or her to see a professional. How does one do that, by the way?

Below is the link to the poem itself; the second link offers Plath's reading of it on YouTube.


Cut - A poem by Sylvia Plath - American Poems

YouTube - Sylvia Plath reads "Cut"


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6 comments:

Brenda's Arizona said...

Interesting poem. Have you ever cut yourself in this way? Sliced a side of a finger off so that the red coated soldiers run amuck?

So much of this poem is mentally vivid! The turkey wattle, the axe to a scalp, a flap like a hat followed by the red push (of blood) - all project strong imagery!

The students comments were a good add. Some were so serious, others so rude. And, it seemed, in their rudeness, the students accentuated the cut of the poem!

BANJO52 said...

Brenda, wow! When you're on, you're REALLY on. I also like your last sentence--what an interesting take.

Matter of fact, I did slice off a bit of left index finger once. I'm pretty sure it went into the pot of soup, the first I ever tried to make from scratch. So I ate it anyway and said nothing to the kids.

Was that wrong? It was a long time ago, they were wee things, and what's a little cannibalism among nippers?

Brenda's Arizona said...

Ouch and YUCK! I'm staying away from your cookin'!

I sliced the side of my 1st finger right off with an exacto knife. I was trimming some negatives along a straight edge when WHOOPS... "That was bad" I thought to myself. I picked up the side of my finger and carried it up front to show my boss, as if to explain why I needed to go to the infirmary. The red coated soldiers ran amuck. My boss proceeded to vomit all over his lap. None of it was pretty. And I was considerably detached from the whole scene. To this day, my one finger is thinner than the others.

Probably why I like the students' comments so much! (Especially the Prozac comment!)

BANJO52 said...

Brenda, you were "considerably detached from the whole scene." Me too, until I couldn't stop the red coats, went to an Urgent Care, and learned that my blood pressure was well into the 200s. I thought I was being heroically calm. Fooled again.

Yours sounds much worse than mine, by the way. Because I am, after all, Banjo52, I worried about fretting (brilliant word play noted) and the doc confirmed that there might be a slight problem. To this day, I think there might be a little stiffness, but I'm not sure, so I guess it is indeed a "slight" problem.

Now if I could just get my young adult children to stop chomping on people at cocktail parties . . . .

altadenahiker said...

Finger food.

BANJO52 said...

If brevity is the soul of wit . . .

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