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.
Plath is not best known for her humor. Many critics comment on the resentment seething in this poem.
But is it not possible that she’s created a little jocundity of nineness? And the poem is a riddle. Many readers do not first understand that all of the metaphors, all of the syllables in each line, the number of lines, even the number of letters in the word metaphors all add up to a “nineness” or a “novecissimo” comment on pregnancy and its 9 months. Plath could indeed be funny–the triolets of her poem “Mushrooms,” for example, or “Balloons” are archly sportive.
To begin poetry month on the first of April, I thought I’d post a brief and amusing poem.