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I'm a riddlePlath begins her poem by playfully telling her audience that (she) is a riddle -- a puzzle, a mystery. The reader is left to figure out how the metaphors that follow are connected to this riddle. Once you have figured out the answer to this riddle, think of how it connects to the concepts of mystery and wonder. in nine syllables,Contrary to what this might imply, you are not looking for a nine-syllable word. Remember that her words are metaphors for something else. What do we associate with the number 9?
An elephant,Plath describes herself as an elephant. She presents her reader with the image of a large, lumbering beast. a ponderous house,As she did with the elephant image, Plath compares herself not just to a house, but a "ponderous" house. "Ponderous" is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as
A melon strolling on two tendrils.This is the metaphor that, with the careful inspection of the clues that precede this line, begin to pull this "riddle" together. Visualize this image -- a melon on two tendrils, and connect it to her other clues of nine, weight, and large size.
O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!After you have solved Plath's riddle, think about what this line is describing. What is it a metaphor for?
This loaf's big with its yeasty rising.Think about how a loaf of bread rises -- slowly, gradually, until it is swollen and round.
Money's new-minted in this fat purse.
I'm a means, a stage, a cow in calf.By now, you should know the answer to her riddle with the final metaphor in this line "cow in calf" -- Plath is pregnant! What do you think she means by calling herself "a means" and "a stage"?
I've eaten a bag of green apples,This line can play with two ideas connected to pregnancy: the idea of eating strange things, and of feeling slightly sick.
Boarded the train there's no getting off.Cited by some critics as the only serious line of the poem, what does this line suggest about Plath's personal view of her pregnancy?