Wednesday, January 21, 2009

External Form #2: Sow by Sylvia Plath

God knows how our neighbor managed to breed
His great sow:
Whatever his shrewd secret, he kept it hid

In the same way
He kept the sow--impounded from public stare,
Prize ribbon and pig show.

But one dusk our questions commended us to a tour
Through his lantern-lit
Maze of barns to the lintel of the sunk sty door

To gape at it:
This was no rose-and-larkspurred china suckling
With a penny slot

For thrift children, nor dolt pig ripe for heckling,
About to be
Glorified for prime flesh and golden crackling

In a parsley halo;
Nor even one of the common barnyard sows,
Mire-smirched, blowzy,

Maunching thistle and knotweed on her snout-
Bloat tun of milk
On the move, hedged by a litter of feat-foot ninnies

Shrilling her hulk
To halt for a swig at the pink teats. No. This vast
Brobdingnag bulk

Of a sow lounged belly-bedded on that black
Fat-rutted eyes
Dream-filmed. What a vision of ancient hoghood

Thus wholly engross
The great grandam!--our marvel blazoned a knight,
Helmed, in cuirass,

Unhorsed and shredded in the grove of combat
By a grisly-bristled
Boar, fabulous enough to straddle that sow's heat.

But our farmer whistled,
Then, with a jocular fist thwacked the barrel nape,
And the green-copse-castled

Pig hove, letting legend like dried mud drop,
Slowly, grunt
On grunt, up in the flickering light to shape

A monument
Prodigious in gluttonies as that hog whose want
Made lean Lent

Of kitchen slops and, stomaching no constraint,
Proceeded to swill
The seven troughed seas and every earthquaking

The stanzas in this poem i thought were very important. They were broken up so much that when you literally say the poem aloud, you're forced to pause. This i felt Plath did on purpose, to create a type of dialogue that a person would have to themselves, when sneaking up on a mysterious barn with a "sow" or female hog inside. Another interesting part of the poem is the title "Sow". The word has different meanings other than just female pig ( "rows of molds in pigs bed" and "a kind of covered shed" relates to the setting of a barn with a "vision of ancient hoghood" hidden inside. The speaker of the poem is contemplating the image of the female hog inside the barn and inflating the image with fantasies of its grandness, "a monument, prodigious in gluttonies." The tone is wonderment from the mysteries of the symbolic "sow" around the corner of the barn doors. Plath chooses to change the typically "gluttonous and greedy pig" to a symbolic form of aspiration and interest to the speaker. Overall, i felt that this poem held many different interpretations and meanings in every stanza.

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