Monday, May 14, 2007

Mystery and Metaphor

by Julia Buckley

It's been a crazy week; I spent lots of it doing paperwork, and in the breaks I tried like a madwoman to clean my house for my son's Communion reception. There wasn't a lot of time to prepare my blog, but I thought it might be fun to share a mystery in the form of a poem by Sylvia Plath. This one has been a favorite of mine since high school, but it's especially poignant for mothers.


by Sylvia Plath

I'm a riddle in nine syllables,
An elephant, a ponderous house,
A melon strolling on two tendrils.
O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!
This loaf's big with its yeasty rising.
Money's new minted in this fat purse.
I'm a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
I've eaten a bag of green apples,
Boarded the train there's no getting off.

The last line is my favorite.

I'm curious to know if there are other poems out there which are also mysteries; Browning's "My Last Duchess" comes to mind--but what others? Share your ideas with Poe's Deadly Daughters!



Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Julia, I hadn't seen the poem before, but to me the solution is obvious, except for two of the syllables, the other seven being "I am a pregnant woman." Maybe "nine months." Plath's last line is an elegant way of saying what everybody else renders as "You can't be a little bit pregnant."

Julia Buckley said...

Well, good for you, Liz! You puzzle solver. I'm not sure what you mean by "two of the syllables," but I certainly think Sylvia hit the nail right on the head with the bus metaphor. :)

Julia Buckley said...

Oh, duh. I just got what you meant. Sorry--long day. :)