Analysis of Lady Lazarus of Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath was born in Boston in 1932. She had a German father and an Austrian-American mother. Her published books like “The Bell Jar” and “Ariel” are reflecting her constant mental stage of depression.
The poem Lady Lazarus starts with Sylvia Plath recovering from a third suicide attempt.
She makes analogs to Holocaust, like in the sentence “My skin, bright as a Nazi lampshade”. The Nazis used to make lampshades out of Jewish skin from the concentration camps.
She indicates that she peels of her skin. She sees herself as a skull that will after a day return in to a normal woman again. On one hand she is describing herself as if she would be part of an audience looking at herself.
On the other hand the phrases “For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge, for the hearing of my heart. And there is a charge, a very large charge for a word or a touch” gives me the impression that Sylvia Plath was aware of that she was getting a lot of attention from people through her suicide attempts.
She tried to commit suicide every tenth year and started when she was ten.
She does not seem to be scared of the death. It looks like she is playing a game with the death. The sentence “And like the cat I have nine times to die” shows, that she has decided to continue trying to commit suicide.
To me the poem is written a little sarcastic and gives me a bittersweet impression. It’s amazing that she can write so distanced about her own death.
The phrases “I turn and burn, Ash, ash-- Out of ash” could indicate that she is comparing herself to a Phoenix. A Phoenix is in the mythology a bird that burns and is reborn from the ashes.
Analysis of Bird of Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson came from a successful family in Massachusetts. She had a protected childhood. She wrote about 850 poems, very many of them about death and immortalization.
The poem called Bird describes in detail and with happiness one little scene in the nature.
She describes the bird eating the worm which again is part of the biological cycle. When she tries to give the bird a crumble the bird disappears. It is as if the bird is scared of the crumble which could be because it crumble is not part of the natural food for a bird.
The poem is peaceful and calming. I find the poem from Emily Dickinson much more joyful. It does not give such an angry impression as Sylvia Plath’s poem.
The biggest contrast between the two poems is that “Lady Lazarus” is describing the willingness and eager to die, “Bird” is describing a scene of a lively minute in a birds life. It seems like Emily Dickinson is happy watching the bird. Sylvia Plath is in her poem more negative towards the life in general.
My impression is also that Sylvia Plath writes in a more modern way than Dickinson for example her choice of style. Emily Dickinson uses a more old fashioned way of expressing herself like “rowed him softer home” instead of saying the bird flew away.