Barren Woman, Sylvia Plath, 1961
Empty, I echo to the least footfall,
Museum without statues, grand with pillars, porticoes, rotundas.
In my courtyard a fountain leaps and sinks back into itself,
Nun-hearted and blind to the world. Marble lilies
Exhale their pallor like scent. 5
I imagine myself with a great public,
Mother of a white Nike and several bald-eyed Apollos.
Instead, the dead injure me with attentions, and nothing can happen.
The moon lays her hand on my forehead,
Blank-faced and mum as a nurse. 10
Plath, Sylvia. “Barren Woman.” The Collected Poems of Sylvia Plath, ed. Ted Hughes. New York: Harper Perennial, 2008.
Plath’s reference to Nike and Apollo in line 7 is an example of