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A Short Analysis of Sylvia Plath’s ‘Elm’

Like many of her poems, including her mature poems from her late period, ‘Elm’ is an obscure Sylvia Plath poem which resists straightforward analysis. Plath’s complex and ambiguous use of symbolism renders ‘Elm’, if not impenetrable, then at the very least, challenging. You can read ‘Elm’ here before proceeding to our analysis of the poem below.

The elm tree is a tree associated with rebirth. Unlike the yew tree – which, in Plath’s ‘The Moon and the Yew Tree’, is associated with masculinity, Christianity, and death – the elm tree offers hope of revival and resurrection. Like another Sylvia Plath poem which has attracted a good deal of analysis and commentary, ‘Lady Lazarus’, ‘Elm’ is about rebirth, but with the knowledge that in order to be reborn there must first be death. Read the rest of this entry

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‘Home’: A Poem by John Clare

This wonderful little-known poem from one of English literature’s greatest nature poets isn’t available online anywhere, so we’ve reproduced it below as the latest in our ‘Post A Poem A Day’ challenge. In the poem, John Clare (1793-1864) extols the virtue of home as a place to return to at the end of a hard day, a place of comfort and belonging. The poem’s form deftly reflects this, with the last line of each stanza returning to home – i.e. by ending on the very word ‘home’.

Home

Muses no more what ere ye be
In fancys pleasures roam
But sing (by truth inspir’d) wi’ me
The pleasures of a home Read the rest of this entry

‘Upon Appleton House’: A Poem by Andrew Marvell

‘Upon Appleton House’ is an example of a ‘country house poem’. Andrew Marvell (1621-78) wrote the poem for Thomas Fairfax, the father of the girl he was tutoring in the early 1650s, just after the end of the English Civil War, and the poem reflects many of the contemporary political issues of the mid-seventeenth century. ‘Appleton House’ is the Nun Appleton estate belonging to Fairfax in Yorkshire.

Upon Appleton House

i
Within this sober Frame expect
Work of no Forrain Architect;
That unto Caves the Quarries drew,
And Forrests did to Pastures hew; Read the rest of this entry