Cut By Watermelon Farmer Ali and Kavinda
Cut-Poem for Susan O'Neill RoeWhat a thrill ----My thumb instead of an onion.The top quite goneExcept for a sort of hingeOf skin,A flap like a hat,Dead white.Then that red plush.Little pilgrim,The Indian's axed your scalp.Your turkey wattleCarpet rollsStraight from the heart.I step on it,Clutching my bottleOf pink fizz. A celebration, this is.Out of a gapA million soldiers run,Redcoats, every one. Whose side are they one?O myHomunculus, I am ill.I have taken a pill to kill The thinPapery feeling.Saboteur,Kamikaze man ----The stain on yourGauze Ku Klux KlanBabushkaDarkens and tarnishes and whenThe balledPulp of your heartConfronts its smallMill of silenceHow you jump ----Trepanned veteran,Dirty girl,Thumb stump.
Overview • This poem is about an accident in which Plath cuts her thumb • Plath describes in detail the what she felt in that frozen moment in time. • She uses lots of imagery to make the poem as graphic as possible
“for Susan O'Neill Roe” • This poem was written for Plath’s new nanny, as a welcoming gesture. • It is likely that it was Susan’s thumb was cut, which inspired Plath to write this poem.
"What a thrill" • Sarcastic tone shows an unexpected calmness, that freezes and effectively captures the moment of the cut • It does give the reader some sort of idea of the feeling of the cut.As one usually feels a thrill before the pain.
“Dead white.Then that red plush” • The description is calm and is like looking at a photo. Helps the reader to imagine what the scene looked like.
“The Indian's axed your scalp.” • Scalping is a very bloody process and could refer to the bleeding of the thumb that has seemingly been scalped. • This could also refer to wars between Native Indians and early settlers, which caused pain and bloodshed on both sides
"Clutching my bottle Of pink fizz. A celebration, this is." • Refers to her thumb as a bottle, which indicates the amount of blood being let out. • The celebration, is not her celebrating, but rather refers to the blood spurting out her thumb, like fireworks.
"Out of a gap A million soldiers run, Redcoats, every one." • Million soldiers with redcoats, refers to red blood cells rushing out of the gap in her skin. • The soldiers, also refer to the American civil war, which was one of the bloodiest wars in America.
“Homunculus, I am ill” • Homunculi, are sometimes used in context of a ‘created’ human, for example in alchemy. • This would mean that Plath’s blood and cut would symbolize that she is truly human to be able to bleed, and could show that Plath wanted to express herself fully, but seemed trapped, by her problems. Hence, her fascination with the cut
“I have taken a pill to killThe thinPapery feeling.” • Plath, deliberately ends the stanza at “kill”. This could show possible suicidal thoughts. • However, taking enjambment into consideration, we see that Plath has taken a painkiller.
“Saboteur,Kamikaze man” • She has sabotaged her own safety, and has damaged herself. She feels guilty of mutilating herself, even though it was an accident
“The stain on your Gauze Ku Klux KlanBabushka” • Plath refers to a KKK robe, which creates an image of a robe stained, with the fresh blood of an innocent. Which is an indication of what the gauze dressing would look like. • Babushka is a headscarf that is wrapped around the head and under the chin, which would create an image of how the wound had been dressed.
“Trepanned veteran,Dirty girl,Thumb stump” • The short sentences at the end signal the end of an eternity, as life is starting to go back to its fast pace. • Dirty girl, would refer to her hands being stained with blood. However, it could be a feeling of guilt for being so fascinated by the cut.
Some Literary techniques • Enjambment is used to distort the feeling of time. There are long sentences that flow into the next stanza, which creates a slow pace. • Colourful metaphors are used to transfer ideas to the reader.
What could the poem mean? • The poem could just be describing the emotions and thought process during a cut. • OR, the poem could be a metaphor for the pain caused by the world unto itself. The constant reference to wars and even to the Ku Klux Klan, shows that this poem could be about the world cutting itself.