Sylvia Plath – For a Fatherless Son

June 18, 2009

For a Fatherless Son

You will be aware of an absence, presently,
Growing beside you, like a tree,
A death tree, color gone, an Australian gum tree —
Balding, gelded by lightning–an illusion,
And a sky like a pig’s backside, an utter lack of attention.
But right now you are dumb.
And I love your stupidity,
The blind mirror of it. I look in
And find no face but my own, and you think that’s funny.
It is good for me
To have you grab my nose, a ladder rung.
One day you may touch what’s wrong —
The small skulls, the smashed blue hills, the godawful hush.
Till then your smiles are found money.

This work, for me, was a nice work to read. Primarily, Plath begins the reader’s view of the poem by titling it something that hits close to home, people automatically feel sorry for the son. Plath goes on to suggest that a father is essential in one’s life, calling the father a ‘death tree’ growing besides him. I was surprised with this analogy because usually trees symbolize life but perhaps Plath is suggesting that the branches of the tree all lead to one core meaning, the father is no longer there for his son. Plath seems to be discussing the view the boy sees in the mirror. He sees ‘stupidity’ which I thought translates into the idea that the boy has not experienced having a father, which leads to his blindness to see from the other side. The poem ends with the suggestion that ‘smiles are found money’. I had trouble with this part but I took it as Plath said the only happiness the son had of the father physically was money that he left in a will or something to that nature but he still knows that it is not enough for his satisfaction….he wants his father


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