Sylvia Plath Questions and Answers

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Please give some literary devices that are used in "I Am Vertical" by Sylvia Plath.

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This poem is based around two central comparisons that the speaker of the poem makes between herself and then a tree and a flower. It is this sense of kinship--or the lack of it--that is explored through the poem. Note how in the first stanza, the speaker begins by stating how she is different from these two objects. The speaker says that she is "not a tree with my root in the soil" and likewise she is not "the beauty of the garden bed." The speaker, by using these negative metaphors to describe what she cannot be compared to, distances herself from these lovely and fruitful images. She is not like a tree that will "gleam into leaf," and neither is she beautiful and a sight that attracts the appreciation of others. Her desire is to have the "longevity" of the tree and the "daring" of the flower. It says a lot about the speaker that seeing nature makes her aware of her deficiencies. However, it is at night when the speaker imagines lying down that she can be "useful" and have communion with these aspects of nature:

It is more natural to me, lying down. Then the sky and I are in open conversation, And I shall be useful when I lie down finally: The the trees may touch me for once, and the flowers have time for me.

Is this a veiled reference to death and how our dying brings us closer to nature when we become one with the earth? Lying down "finally" perhaps would indicate this. Certainly a lot of Plath's poetry uses imagery and symbolism relating to death and dying, so perhaps this is possible.

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