Analysis

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

"Morning Song" is a poem by American poet and novelist Sylvia Plath. The poem, from a the point-of-view of clinical psychology, appears to be about the effects of postpartum depression. Plath wrote the poem after she had given birth to her daughter, Frieda.

One of the first things readers might notice is the absence of emotion in the beginning of the poem. Typical maternal-based poems, or poems about a newborn child in general, are filled with cliche descriptions of love, warmth, and the feeling of being complete as a person and as a family. In this case, Plath describes the childbirth from detached point-of-view. In fact, Plath states that she feels alone, mirroring her own child's loneliness, and they are lonely together but separately. This is a contrast image to the picture of a fetus in her mother's womb: intimate and the child is dependent on the mother for survival. Plath also confesses that she feels alienated.

However, the poem suddenly changes its tone. After she spends time with Frieda, Plath begins to feel the love and warmth that was absent in the beginning. The build-up to this crescendo of emotions is written like a sweeping epic poem in which a person has to learn to love instead of falling in love at first sight. The feeling of loneliness wears off because Plath now recognizes her newborn baby's company. In this phase of her motherhood, Plath begins to experience the natural instincts of being a mother. Her protective and caring instincts overpower her postpartum depression and perceptions about the baby being an "object."

The poem is a hint at the major depressive episodes—possible a form of bipolar disorder—Plath faced later on in life and which eventually led her to take her life. Her husband, who was notoriously detached emotionally and possibly emotionally abusive towards her, seems to be absent from the poem, making her feelings of alienation amplified.

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