“Mad Girl’s Love Song” Commentary

Mad Girl’s Love Song: A Villanelle by Sylvia Plath

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan’s men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)
————-

Fun fact: This poem was my first encounter with the villanelle–a form I later adopted for one of my own poems. I had been struggling with the format for years when finally a college professor saw it and suggested that my poem was a villanelle struggling to take form. Turns out he was totally right!

In my junior year of high school my class had to read  The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I assume we also read this poem. At any rate it eventually made it onto my computer where I found it today.

I generally like villanelles because it’s a very elegant form. The lines repeat and you almost can’t trace the pattern but when you do it’s very subtle. This poem, as the title sort of suggests, always struck me as very lyrical. This poem is also modern with its combination of storytelling and pure imagery. And who hasn’t met some sensational, improbable person that seems made up?

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