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It is known to all that Sylvia Plath rejects the sterile man orientated society. Now we are to see whether she is at one with nature, whether the natural world nourish the self. The answer is perhaps in the negative. The poet makes effective use of mental landscapes and personifications in her verse, and the natural world often seems to reflect the speakers’ moods vividly. But at the same time, there seems to be a lack of sympathy between nature and the voices we hear. On many occasions, speakers feel threatened by the settings they are seen in. 

“The Rival” begins with the image of the moon which appears to the speaker to be cold and dull, although outwardly it looks very beautiful from a far distance with its borrowed light. The wife who is the speaker finds the reflection of her husband’s character in the moon. Both of them are “light borrowers” (i.e. both he and the moon are artificial in their manners). The moon has no light of its own and as such it is barren and cold, similarly the husband is gentle and sweet tongued outwardly but inwardly very cruel and indifferent to the wife. 

In “Crossing the Water”, nature appears to be alarming. The water seems here very threatening and the passengers of the boat vulnerable: they are “cut-paper people” overwhelmed by the huge shadows cast by the trees. A sense of stillness exists in the passengers but this stillness is not supreme. In the second stanza, the mood is lifted momentarily and the travellers are offered “dark advice” by the water flowers, which try to delay them. But they move inexorably on, so that in the third stanza we feel they are moving beyond the world. They become infected with ‘The spirit of blackness’ like everything around them. They are now at one with the landscape. In the final stanza the couple seem stunned, as if in a dream. They are “blinded” and “astounded” by the “stars open among the lilies”. 

In “Words” the poet has made metaphorical use of nature. The first stanza suggests that the act of writing is strenuous like chopping down a tree. The difficulties of writing are evoked again in the second . stanza when the sap “Wells like tears”. Like water seeking to dominate the rock, the poet has to struggle to establish her mastery ‘over words. Sylvia Plath perhaps sees this as a battle to overcome death. Water is frequently linked to dying in her work, and here the rock is “A white skull/ Eaten by weedy greens”. In the final stanza the _ poet has surrendered to the “fixed star” of death that has pervaded her life and her work. She recognises that while she will die (“fixed stars” govern her life), her words will live on. There is no denying the fact that “Words” was written only ten days before Sylvia Plath’s death by suicide. 

Sylvia Plath has made a wide use of the objects and phenomena of nature. But they are mostly used metaphorically and symbolically against the background of human emotion, behaviour and actions. Thus her attitude to nature is modern and unromantic. 


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