Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 431
Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
In this opening line, Plath's speaker addresses her newborn baby girl. She compares the love that led to her birth to "fat gold watch," implicitly likening the infant to the watch. This is an odd simile to describe a baby girl, as we normally associate gold watches with older men. Nevertheless, babies can be fat, they are often deemed precious, like gold, and they are in motion: once they are born, they are subject to time. Nevertheless, at first, the baby is seen by its mother as a possession.
Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.
In the second stanza, the baby is likened to a new statue. Plath puts emphasis on the words "new statue" by setting them apart between periods. We are stopped by the words just as the baby's parents are stopped—arrested—by the sight of her. The adults may be in a "museum" (either at home or in the hospital) with the baby, but they are apart from the infant: a concept reinforced by the idea of the baby as the statue, the object to be gazed at, while the adults are likened to "walls." Nevertheless, the first line of the stanza also states that the adult voices draw attention to the baby.
In these lines, the speaker expresses what might be her alienation from her baby but is more likely her realization that she doesn't own the infant as if it is a "fat gold watch." She begins to realize that both mother and child are parts of a larger nature.I’m no more your motherThan the cloud that distills a mirror . . .
The baby continues to evolve from being compared a watch or a statue, an object people gaze at. She gains humanity as a part of nature. The baby now has "moth-breath." It "flickers." It sounds like a "far sea." These imagines are softer, warmer and more pleasant than the earlier ones. We can imagine the mother becoming closer to her child.All night your moth-breathFlickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:A far sea moves in my ear.
The clear vowels rise like balloons.
As the baby expresses itself with a "handful of notes" it seems to create beauty, which is likened to "balloons."
We see in the poem that motherhood and mother love are not natural to this speaker. Only over time does she grow from viewing the baby as an alien object to appreciating it as a creative and natural being in its own right.