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‘Morning Song’ uses auditory imagery throughout to make us get a sense of what it might be like to be there. This is first seen where Plath describes the birth and the way midwifes ‘slap’ the foot soles of the newborns, which makes the reader feel a part of this very personal experience. This abrupt noise provokes the image of waking up, conveying that Plath feels as if she is waking up from a dream. The ‘bald cry’ of Plath’s child is another abrupt noise, that makes the sound of the baby crying unpleasant, but also states it’s purity and naturalness.
This is achieved though the word ‘bald’ that shows the image of something blank, like a canvas that is yet to be drawn upon. This is important because it is summary of how motherhood can be not only a sometimes unpleasant, but a perfectly natural, showing how pure babies are to their mothers. Another interpretation of the ‘bald cry’, is that she is seeing the sound as one day becoming so common to her ears, it is almost welcome as this is the first she has heard it. The sounds Plath convey always link into the tone of the poem at that point.
For example, where there is a realisation of a beginning Plath talks about an ‘echo’, which is slightly eerie but also indicates that Plath is realising that the future is blank as they are starting together now. Not only does Plath portray certain sound to us the reader, she also portrays certain thought provoking images that lead us to be hooked into the story that the poem is telling us. One of these images is where Plath talks about a ‘new statue’ which shows the baby to not only be a prized possession, but also new which yet again links back to the theme of a new beginning.
Images are also used in ‘Catrin’ to convey a sense of beginning, where Clarke says ‘square environmental blank’, for example, as It makes us realise that Clarke is at a new start now, where everything is pristine. However, this also gives it a sinister tone, as it is almost inferring that Clarke feels she may ruin this perfectness. This shows us that both poems are similar in the fact they both portray certain emotions to the reader though both auditory imagery, and visual imagery.
Plath seems to be evaluating her relationship with her child throughout ‘Morning Song’. She achieves this by seeming close and protective of her child at some points, yet at others Plath conveys a sense of detachment to the reader. We see the fact that Plath feels close to her child at some points, where she seems overly protective of her baby: ‘your moth breath flickers’ and ‘a far sea moves in my ear’. Both of these sentences infer that she is monitoring her baby, as she feels responsible for its welfare.
The word ‘flickers’ implies that Plath is uncertain of her babies’ health, as she is scared that the flicker will diminish, and therefore the baby will die. Another interpretation of the word ‘flickers’ is that Plath is so alert and attentive towards her baby, that she can notice even a minor change in the constant breathing of her child. The sentence ‘a far sea moves in my ear’ is very informative, as it implies Plath’s ear to her babies breathing where the ‘sea’ metaphor for the breathing portrays that it’s a constant sound to the mother, and calming and natural to Plath.
However, Plath’s relationship with the child is also noticeably detached and therefore conveys a feeling that Plath is overwhelmed at being a mother, which is particularly noticeable where Plath states ‘the cloud that distils a mirror to reflect’. Separation is the key theme of this line, as it infers a distance is becoming apparent to Plath between herself and her child. This is similar to ‘Catrin’, where the entirety of the poem is focused on distances between mother and daughter and their separation.
The theme of separation is made very apparent where Clarke states ‘we shouted, to be two, to be ourselves’, as it infers that mother and daughter were fighting to regain their own separate identities. This loss of identity is also seen in ‘Morning Song’, where Plath talks about the clouds ‘effacement at the wind’s hand’, as effacement is to remove by rubbing, just as you would remove a reflection in water by rubbing it. Both of the poems focus on theme of motherhood, and they share many similarities in the emotions the poems portray.
However, they do have differences; most noticeably in structure where ‘Morning Song’ is broken down into many stanzas and ‘Catrin’ is contained within two longer stanzas. By having two main stanzas, Clarke was able to achieve a sense of past and present which left the audience with a well-rounded concept of the story Clarke was trying to portray. However, the difference in structure in ‘Morning Song’ led to the poem seeming like a step by step story, similar to a diary; meaning that Plath could make us perceive her emotions more accurately by putting them into context.
There are other prominent differences in the poems, such as ‘Catrin’ and her mother fighting to become separate and in ‘Morning Song’ where Plath feels detached and isolated and wants to be close to her child again. This desperate desire to be close to her baby again is made apparent where Plath writes ‘one cry i stumble from bed’; as Plath’s actions are instinctive and protective, yet they seem forced, almost as if she has to will herself to do it for her baby.
However, in contrast to this ‘Catrin’ has a main theme of trying to do too much for your child. This over-protectiveness is perceptible throughout the entirety of the poem, and is seen in the following sentence: ‘your rosy defiant glare’. By stating the glare is ‘defiant’ it is as if Clarke is denying her child something and it pains her to do this as it is upsetting her child, which is made apparent from her ‘glare’. The effect of this is to make us sympathise with Clarke, who is portrayed to be trying to do the best for her child.
One of the many similarities between the poems is that, they both talk about the instinctive and natural tendencies of being a mother. This natural part of motherhood is conveyed subtly through ‘Catrin’ and is most obvious where Clarke talks about ‘the hearts pool that old rope’. This ‘red rope of love’ not only signifies there once physical bond, but the emotional natural bond that is formed between mother and child. By using the metaphor of the ‘rope’ repetitively, it helps the audience understand the deep connection Clarke feels towards her child in ‘Catrin’.
However, the instinctive nature of motherhood is portrayed rather bluntly through ‘Morning Song’, giving it a sombre tone. The images ‘Morning Song’ portrays are ones of the typical mother and this is achieved by using imagery such as ‘cow-heavy’ and ‘Victorian night-gown’ causing the reader to feel like Plath is almost being sarcastic by using those descriptions, as she doesn’t feel like motherhood comes naturally to her. Another interpretation is Plath now feels slightly dismal due to the fact she is realising that being a mother isn’t all it is made out to be.
Both of the poems are really provocative, however I think that ‘Catrin’ is more joyful than the slightly more depressive ‘Morning Song’. These different emotions are conveyed from the ideas and emotions the authors both convey through each of their respective poems as ‘Catrin’ shows the emotion of joy ‘with the wild tender circles’. This conveys to the audience the emotion of joy to the reader, by talking about the birth in a passionate manner and makes it seem like she feels all the effort of the birth was worthwhile.
On the contrary to this, ‘Morning Song’ had a depressing tone throughout most of the poem and this is seen where Plath says ‘new statue in a drafty museum’. The sentence sounds eerie as the word ‘drafty’ implies a rush of wind, which can both send shivers down your spine, and is also commonly associated with ghosts. The line also seems depressive as it is making the birth, which was joyful and passionate in ‘Catrin’, seem like an isolated and scary experience for Plath. Both poems suggest the theme of ambivalence at motherhood, but they portray this differently.
For instance, in ‘Morning Song’ at some points Plath portrays an instinctive nurturing toward her baby ‘I wake to listen’, but at other points she seems distant and detached from her child: ‘we stand round blankly as walls’. On the other hand, ‘Catrin’ shows us that Clarke feels immense amount of love for her child, ‘the red rope of love’, but also that she feels infuriated at some points as a mother: ‘tightening about my life’. Both poems use of ambivalent emotions give the impression of the emotional strain put upon mothers, which seems to be a key theme in both ‘Morning Song’ and ‘Catrin’.
In conclusion, I think that both poems effectively portray their author’s emotions and feelings about their experiences with motherhood. Both authors establish their experiences, while subtly portraying their true emotions about motherhood. Plath and Clarke make their poems easy to relate to, helping to drive home their thoughts and feelings about motherhood. Also through the structure of the poems we get an indication of how the authors feel the pace of motherhood differs.
For instance, in ‘Catrin’ the pace of is fairly fast, but still cautious. This portrayal of Clarke’s feelings about motherhood happening quickly, and her difficulty keeping up with the pace has the effect of making her emotions accessible to the reader through her opinion of the pace of motherhood, showing the anxiousness she feels toward her role. In contrast to this, Plath has a structure which uses enjambment which conveys her thoughts that motherhood is ongoing, through the ‘cloud that distils the mirror’.
This helps to convey her feeling that motherhood is ever-changing, and that she feels distant from her child as a consequence of this. We see the themes of ambivalence, motherhood and an onslaught of conflicting emotions from both poets. The compulsion to record their emotions suggest to us the passion they feel for their roles as mothers. From the poems we see that Clarke and Catrin convey a range of thoughts and feelings and portray their passion and emotions to the reader effectively.