Advanced Higher English - Help on Sylvia Plath Poetry

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sarahleslie1
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Hi everyone

Our head of English is changing over the Christmas holidays and our teacher has handed us 3 poems on behalf of the new one to "read, analyse, and annotate" for homework.

I am having several problems with this: they seem rather obscure, I've not studied poetry for a year, and I have never analysed/annotated a poem (or anything bar my dissertation stories for that matter!) on my own before.
Say all you like about spoon-feeding, but there you go!

Anyway, I was hoping that someone could help me. The poems are:

Ariel
Daddy
Lady Lazerus

If anyone is doing the same poems then I'd be up for a bit of a discussion, or any notes or websites would be very helpful.

Also, to all AH English students, how many poems are you learning for the exam?

Thanks!
Sarah
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Envy Eyes
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I'm assuming that part of the reason you've not got a reply is because as you said people don't like giving people everything on a plate. As someone who did some Plath poetry for her AH dissertation, my best advice would be to go a library and get out some books about Plath, both in regard to her life and critical responses to her work.
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sarahleslie1
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(Original post by Envy Eyes)
I'm assuming that part of the reason you've not got a reply is because as you said people don't like giving people everything on a plate. As someone who did some Plath poetry for her AH dissertation, my best advice would be to go a library and get out some books about Plath, both in regard to her life and critical responses to her work.
My local library is rather small with regard to non-fiction; I have searched online but can only find forum-type websites, where anyone can pitch an opinion in, and half the time people say complete opposites.
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Envy Eyes
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(Original post by sarahleslie1)
My local library is rather small with regard to non-fiction; I have searched online but can only find forum-type websites, where anyone can pitch an opinion in, and half the time people say complete opposites.
Yeah, that's exactly why I didn't suggest internet sources. If you have to use internet sources then trying filtering through the search engine by limiting the sites within ac.uk domains. Or try google scholar.

Do you know if it's possible for your local library to get books transferred from other larger libraries in the area? I know that's possible at mine, might be something worth checking out.

Or, failing that, why don't you try buying a couple books on her works from the likes of Amazon? What about the York notes on her work, or the Cambridge companion?
If you do decide to invest in a couple books then check first on a price comparison site for books to make sure you're getting the best deal!

This is pretty much everything I can think of, failing giving you the 'answers' on a plate, and I'm sure it'll make much more sense and be conveyed much more clearly in your essays if it is something which is your own response to her work. Good luck!
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RockyRoad
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I did Plath at higher (doing Heaney for AH) and looked at Daddy (briefly) and Lady Laz. (and Edge, Blackberrying, etc) so can maybe help a bit? The part that always amuses me in Lady Laz is when she starts going on about herself, "Dying/is an art, like everything else/I do it exceptionally well" which she clearly didn't, considering it took her three tries.

I had quite the Plath obsession for a bit, actually.

So yeah, I'll give it a go if you want but she isn't my AH poet. I have done a fair chunk of analysing/annotating Heaney on my own, though (we must have done circa 20 poems, we split them up and each person "teaches" their poems to the class (all three of us ) and prepares notes, and our teacher adds in anything we've missed).
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sarahleslie1
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(Original post by RockyRoad)
I did Plath at higher (doing Heaney for AH) and looked at Daddy (briefly) and Lady Laz. (and Edge, Blackberrying, etc) so can maybe help a bit? The part that always amuses me in Lady Laz is when she starts going on about herself, "Dying/is an art, like everything else/I do it exceptionally well" which she clearly didn't, considering it took her three tries.

I had quite the Plath obsession for a bit, actually.

So yeah, I'll give it a go if you want but she isn't my AH poet. I have done a fair chunk of analysing/annotating Heaney on my own, though (we must have done circa 20 poems, we split them up and each person "teaches" their poems to the class (all three of us ) and prepares notes, and our teacher adds in anything we've missed).
20 poems! :eek: is all I have to say
Are you doing prose/drama too?
We were meant to be doing all 3 but then revolted against Hardy after finishing Tess of D'U (could not face doing Return of the Native!) - so now we're doing Plath and Shakespeare.
Must confess I've been rather lazy on the old poetry front - had better get some work done so I have something worthy to discuss! :p:
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sarahleslie1
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(Original post by Envy Eyes)
Do you know if it's possible for your local library to get books transferred from other larger libraries in the area? I know that's possible at mine, might be something worth checking out.

Or, failing that, why don't you try buying a couple books on her works from the likes of Amazon? What about the York notes on her work, or the Cambridge companion?
If you do decide to invest in a couple books then check first on a price comparison site for books to make sure you're getting the best deal!

This is pretty much everything I can think of, failing giving you the 'answers' on a plate, and I'm sure it'll make much more sense and be conveyed much more clearly in your essays if it is something which is your own response to her work. Good luck!
I love search inside! The Cambridge Companion doesn't seem to have much relevant to me, but would you recommend the York notes then?

Unfortunately South Lanarkshire are pretty rubbish in general when it comes to non-fiction, but I suppose it can't hurt to ask!

And as for "own response" to poem, well I have to say that I never have had a really personal response to any (except "Wow, this is really boring" to Churchgoing by Larkin). Possibly weird, I know, but there you have it.
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RockyRoad
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(Original post by sarahleslie1)
20 poems! :eek: is all I have to say
Are you doing prose/drama too?
We were meant to be doing all 3 but then revolted against Hardy after finishing Tess of D'U (could not face doing Return of the Native!) - so now we're doing Plath and Shakespeare.
Must confess I've been rather lazy on the old poetry front - had better get some work done so I have something worthy to discuss! :p:
We're doing Dickens (Hard Times and Great Expectations), no drama though. I think the idea for us is that we pick one (either Dickens or Heaney) to concentrate on, and just learn enough of the other to pass the NAB.

(Original post by sarahleslie1)
And as for "own response" to poem, well I have to say that I never have had a really personal response to any (except "Wow, this is really boring" to Churchgoing by Larkin). Possibly weird, I know, but there you have it.
Not surprised given that you're doing Plath. :p: "er, okaaaay" was as close to emotion as I got. My friend (who is a bit too interested with "the unsettled mind" :rolleyes: ) loves Plath, though. I adore Heaney, and Geddes. Finally have started to understand what this "personal response" thing is.
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Envy Eyes
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(Original post by RockyRoad)
The part that always amuses me in Lady Laz is when she starts going on about herself, "Dying/is an art, like everything else/I do it exceptionally well" which she clearly didn't, considering it took her three tries.
Who says the speaker of the poem is Plath? Just because the genre is confessional, doesn't mean it is that easy to decipher everything in Plath's poems as necessarily the 'truth' about herself.
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RockyRoad
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(Original post by Envy Eyes)
Who says the speaker of the poem is Plath? Just because the genre is confessional, doesn't mean it is that easy to decipher everything in Plath's poems as necessarily the 'truth' about herself.
Er, well, that was what we were told and seemed to fit. I can't remember the exact quotes (haven't looked at Plath since the day I finished the exam ) but something along the lines of:
The first time it was an accident
The second time I meant to last it out
and not come back at all

And the bit about being 30 (she was thirty when she wrote the poem), and it being "number three"...does correlate somewhat with her own suicide attempts (first one swimming too far out to sea, the second one...I don't remember, was it an overdose? I seem to remember being told it was more "serious" as suicide attempts go).

Anyway, I'm more poking fun that legitimately analysing. :p: And I only studied it at higher, not advanced. So we probably got the easy answers.
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sarahleslie1
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Well with the help of York notes (which annoyingly I had to pay good money for from Amazon - curses on South Lanarkshire libraries!) I have finished "my" analysis of the poems (12 hours before they are to be taught :p:).

All I can say is: rather weird.

Particularly Ariel.

Eugh.
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qwerty123asdfg
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Yout teacher just saying "analyse" is pretty vague
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