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Sylvia Plaths Psychic Landscapes In the following essay I will examine the development of Plaths poetry through analysis of major themes and imagery found in her description of landscapes seascapes and the natural world Following the lead of Ted Hughes critics today tend to read Sylvia Plaths poetry as a unity Individual poems are best read in the context of the whole oeuvre motifs themes and images link poems together and these linkages illuminate their meaning and heighten their power It is certainly easy to see that through almost obsessive repetition some elements put their unforgettable mark on the poetry themes such as the contradictory desires for life and death and the quests for selfhood and truth images like those of color with red black and white dominating the palette and symbols of haunting ambiguity for example the moon and the sea But equally obvious is the striking development that Plaths work underwent in the course of her brief career as a professional poet This is perhaps most readily seen in the prosody from exerting her equilibristic skill at handling demanding verse forms such as the terza rima and the villanelle she broke free of the demands of such literary conventions and created a personal verse form which still retained some of the basic elements of her earlier academic style She turned the three-line stanza of the villanelle into a highly flexible medium Freed from the prosodic strictness of poems like Medallion written in 1959 this verse form reappeared in poems composed in the last year of her life in a superbly liberated yet controlled form Some of her finest and most personal poems are written in this medium for example Fever 103 Ariel Nick and the Candlestick Lady Lazarus Marys Song and the late Sheep in Fog Child and Contusion More important though is the development one can observe in Plaths handling of images and themes of settings and scenes My concern in
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