April is Poetry Month!


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.

–Sylvia Plath

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.

Author: Gubbinal

Bookish, tea-drinking cat-lady who loves great poetry and music and is in the midst of dying

3 thoughts on “April is Poetry Month!”

  1. I love this poem! It’s the first time I’ve encountered it and on first reading, despite not understanding what it was about, it left me with a feeling of light-hearted joy. Having then read your helpful comments, Natalie, I agree with you: I can’t see the resentment – only the mischievous humour. Thank you for introducing me to this one 🙂


      1. Now I come to think about it, Natalie, I wouldn’t have blamed Plath for expressing moments of grumpiness at 9 months. I’m know I had plenty! 😉


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