Name: Dana Tsai
This is a carefully worked-out poem. Every word, every line is neatly organized. Through the technique, metaphor, as shown in the title, S. Plath perfectly described the complex emotions of a pregnant woman.
The period of pregnancy is the period of combination of excited, expecting, unsure, and even a bit fear feelings. As the speaker said, she felt herself "huge" and made fun of her outlook. Here the tone is actually a bit ironic, though she's waiting a new life to come. < O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers! > Red fruit shows freshness and sweetness, just like the infant. Ivory means something very precious, as valuable as the baby. And fine timbers are used to build a house, kind of like the beginning of the house. This implies the baby-the beginning of a new life-is gradually being formed. Till now the speaker's tone is still quite happy and expecting, in spite of the irony of her shape. The next line is a clear clue that points out the answer of the "riddle", as said in the very first line in this poem, "I'm a riddle in nine syllables." "A cow in calf" implies that the speaker is pregnant. Here the tone is a bit ironic, too. With the word "means" the speaker reveals a truth that pregnant women are sometimes consider to be just some kind of "tool" for offspring.
The coming sentences reveal some other emotions of a pregnant woman. Green apples are sour, and eating too much sour food will make the stomach sick. The line is saying that the speaker is suffering what most pregnant women suffer-feeling nauseous. Pregnancy is a life-long heavy responsibility; once you are having a baby, you take the responsibility for the rest of your life. During the pregnancy women are responsible for the infant's "forming". In conservative society, women are even responsible for the baby's sexuality, though it's genetically proved that the infant's sexuality has a lot to do with the father, not the mother. After the baby is safely offspring, women soon have to take the coming responsibility-taking good care of the child's education, health, etc. There's no end for this "burden"; it's just like the train with no getting off.
In this poem the word "riddle" has two "metaphors." It not only means the pregnant woman, but also means the pregnancy itself. During the time of the baby's forming, one can never tell if it's a boy or a girl, nor can predict its physical condition, or even further, the child's future. It's as mysterious as a riddle. Therefor, the speaker is excited and also unease for the unknown "answer"-what will the baby become? Her feeling is complicated.
According to what is analyzed above, this poem is about the complex feelings of a pregnant woman. S. Plath successfully described this kind of mixed-feelings through the words' arrangement. The first line, "I'm a riddle in 'nine' syllables", suggests her technique. The whole poem has "nine" lines; each line concludes "nine" syllables, and pregnancy takes about "nine" months. "Metaphor" is a poem that needs to be carefully studied word by word.