Sylvia Plath's Words for a Nursery Essay

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Sylvia Plath's Words for a Nursery

Sylvia Plath’s “Words for a Nursery” depicts the embodiment of life through the symbolism of a human hand. Referring to the hand many times throughout various works(“Mirrors”, “Tulips”, “Lady Lazarus”, etc), Plath continually portrays this feature as a bodily tool around which life functions. After becoming pregnant with her first child, Plath’s analysis of the progression of life from birth to death can be seen within such a poem. Like most of her poetry, “Words for a Nursery” escalates in a positive manner until the end where death is expressed, and a sense of pessimism is briefly felt. As she suggests, life begins with the opening of the hand, the first action which will lead to eventual
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Eventually, the child becomes responsive to the idea that its hands can grab things; the nails being the “crescents” and the “light” suggesting a growing perception. With the “ladders” (the lines on the back of ones fingers) representing the climb to greater understanding, and “limber hooks” (the tip of ones fingers) showing the child’s realization of the way it can function, Plath’s developing metaphor brings the growing sense of awareness to life.

Enjambment becomes another significant poetic technique in Plath’s “Word‘s for a Nursery”. As the second stanza begins, one reads “I learn, good circus / Dog as I am, how / To move, serve, steer food”. With each line flowing to the next, the images Plath creates continue to develop without breaks. Such a technique creates a feeling of acceleration, forcing a reader to continue his thoughts from line to line. This flowing/acceleration parallel the increase and continuation of learning the child is undergoing. With all the details mentioned throughout this stanza being functions of the hand, Plath continues to metaphorically relate a stage of life to the movement of the human hand. As the reader examines the submissive nature of the hand (“good circus dog”) and the way the child is discovering the significance of the ideas: “index the arrow” (pointing to expresses the beginning

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