Notes on Plath's Full Fathom Five (Memory) - QUOTES, POINTS, AND HUGHES DAFFODILS

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Memory

Full Fathom Five

  • "Old man, you surface seldom" - This choice of address term is informal and could be seen as an insult - it's ambiguous and unknown, suggesting the distance between the speaker and her father. "Surface seldom" reflects the ambiguity of occasonal memories, and the grief coming back to the surface like waves. 
  • "seas wash cold, foam", "rising, falling" - Water and seascape is used to reflect the elusive nature of memories. Sibilance shows the elusive quality with a harsh, bitter tone, which could suggest the coldness of her father, implying the tough, hard memories that are always "rising, falling" - always moving - she can't get hold of the memories, reinforcing their constant coming and going. 
  • "white hair, white beard" - Features characterize the "old man" - he is the ocean, reflecting the distance/expance of the memories through use of location. The repetition of the colour "white" shows the blankness of memories, and the lack of colour imagery throughout the poem could even reflect black and white photographs, amplifying distance and vagueness of memories. 
  • "Unimagineable.", You float near", "danger" - Reflectis the danger of the memories, which are too powerful, perhaps presenting the speaker as fearful and frightened of them, hightened by the end stop and caesura, which allows a pause - the memories are too painful, intensified by the repetition of "danger". The use of the second-person personal pronoun "you" amplifies an accusatory tone.
  • Enjambment throughout the poem implies the spilling of words (like water?) and the…

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