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1987 Poem: "Sow" by Sylvia Plath

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Manisha Kanumuri

on 10 January 2016

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Transcript of 1987 Poem: "Sow" by Sylvia Plath

Manisha Kanumuri
Response Outline
About the Poem
"The Sow" by Sylvia Plath is obviously not just about a pig. This poem serves to signify various perceptions (of the farmer and speaker) on one topic, the sow. The sow is seen as a magnificent and powerful creature through the eyes of neighbor, but it is seen as nothing more than his average, prize-winning pig, in the eyes of the farmer. The sow is merely used as the object in conveying to readers that
humans tend to take for granted what is theirs, and fail to see the greatness of something they own
. This statement is represented by the two different viewpoints on the sow, of the humble farmer and the in awe speaker.
1987 Poem: "Sow" by Sylvia Plath
Write an essay in which you analyze the presentation of the sow. Consider particularly how the language of the poem reflects both the neighbor's and the narrator's perceptions of the sow and how the language determines the reader's perceptions. Be certain to discuss how the portrayal of the sow is enhanced by such by such features as diction, devices of sound, images, and allusions.
• “hulk”, “monument”, “legend”, or “bulk” can be used to portray the speaker’s opinion of the sow – it’s size, power, and greatness
• “impounded”, “pig”, “shrewd secret”, “hid”, “fist thwacked the barrel nape” used to demonstrate the farmer’s average reaction towards his sow - as if it is nothing more than any regular animal that he treats with no difference

• “heckling” and “cackling” using end rhyme to help bring the speaker's view of the pig's greatness, by demonstrating that it is no ordinary pig
• The two words draw together and connect pig's behavior and taste by rhyming the words together, only to show that this sow is unlike thos other pigs
• “hulk” and “bulk” is used when the speaker shifts the subject of the poem from other pigs to this sow; contrasting the “hulk” of other pigs to the “bulk” of the sow
•Similarly to the first set of rhyming words, the speaker uses end rhymes to tie together the description of other sows to the farmer's sow
•Alongside the rhyme, the one word sentence “No”. in line 23 gives readers a sharp, immediate change of focus to the great sow
• “Brobdingnag bulk”, “sow lounged belly-bedded on that black compost”, “fat-rutted eyes”, “vision of ancient hoghood must” bring to mind images of marvelous, gigantic, and grand things - all used to convey the speaker's awe and wonder of the sow, and to persuade readers to see it in the same way
• “barrel nape”, “green-copse-castled” shows farmer’s mundane view of the sow, nothing as great as how the narrator speaks of it; he does not elevate the sow to high and glorious standards, he merely sees it as a regular pig

The speaker uses allusions to connect the sow to unlike things
The intro paragraph should mention the following:

•Name of the poem
•Author's name
•Address the prompt - how the language of the poem reflects both the speaker's and the farmer's perceptions of the sow and how the language determines the reader's perceptions
•Theme statemnt -
Humans tend to take for granted what is theirs and fail to see the greatness of what they own
•How the author employs diction, sound devices, imagery, and allusion to convey this message to the audience
•How the four above poetic devices are used in contrasting the viewpoint of the speaker vs. that of the farmer

The author uses specific diction to convey to the audience the speaker's viepoint of the sow, vs. the farmer's viewpoint of his sow:
Devices of Sound
In additon, the author uses vivid imagery that shows the contrasting opinions towards the sow, of the speaker and farmer
•The sow is said to be “impounded” in line 5, similar to how an automobile might be impounded; the farmer is keeping the great sow hidden away from public eye instead of bragging about the sow
•The reference to “Brobdingnag” in line 24 is an allusion to Swift's tyrannical giants of
Gulliver's Travels
, to show that that the speaker acknowledges the sow's grandeur, similar to that of giants
• The allusion “What a vision of ancient hoghood” in line 28 is used to compare the sow to the mythically, savage wild boars which were feared and treasured in Ancient Greece
• “our marvel blazoned a knight (...) in the grove of combat” in line 29,31 are references that set the sow up as a powerful and legendary hero
•With the farmer in the picture, the allusions switch to biblical references, specifically alluding to sins of the pig's mundane nature - “Prodigious in gluttonies as that hog whose want” line 41
•However in the last stanza, the speaker ends the poem in awe with the sow, and how it proceeded to stomach the seven troughed seas, and every continent - alluding to how it is an unstoppable and powerful force of nature


I hope you all now have enough imformation on how to write about a sow....but remember, it's never just about a sow
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