Sylvia Plath: Sleep in the Mojave Desert

Sleep in the Mojave Desert 

Out here there are no hearthstones,

Hot grains, simply. It is dry, dry.

And the air dangerous. Noonday acts queerly

On the mind’s eye erecting a line

Of poplars in the middle distance, the only

Object beside the mad, straight road

One can remember men and houses by.

A cool wind should inhabit these leaves

And a dew collect on them, dearer than money,

In the blue hour before sunup.

Yet they recede, untouchable as tomorrow,

Or those glittery fictions of spilt water

That glide ahead of the very thirsty.



I think of the lizards airing their tongues

In the crevice of an extremely small shadow

And the toad guarding his heart’s droplet.

The desert is white as a blind man’s eye,

Comfortless as salt. Snake and bird

Doze behind the old maskss of fury.

We swelter like firedogs in the wind.

The sun puts its cinder out. Where we lie

The heat-cracked crickets congregate

In their black armorplate and cry.

The day-moon lights up like a sorry mother,

And the crickets come creeping into our hair

To fiddle the short night away.

Dover Beach Textual Analysis Feedback

  • Need to establish a clear overall argument/evaluative stance – what is the significance of the scene Arnold describes? What themes/concepts are explored? How does he do this?
  • Only a couple of you actually mentioned pathetic fallacy as a technique – TECHNIQUES ARE ESSENTIAL!!!
  • Not many people picked up on the shift in atmosphere, moving from positive imagery to a sense of loss as the poem progresses.
  • Some of you thought this was a war poem – interesting interpretation, but it’s not.
  • Also, a lot of people shied away from the structure here – don’t be afraid of it, as dealing with it head on can really enhance your analysis, i.e. the ‘muddled’ rhyme scheme here is actually a mixed up sonnet in the first section of the poem, not only breaking with tradition, but creating a sense of disharmony and uncertainty.
  • Lots of people not annotating their poems – so helpful, please try to do this, as well as plan.
  • Some responses particularly short and lacking depth – what you have is fine, but there’s nowhere near enough of it. You have an hour and a half. Get to it.

Sylvia Plath Presentations

Hello folks,

To help your critical analysis, and future revision, here’s a collection of the Plath presentations you all delivered before the holidays.













Plath Critical Reading

Hello folks,

Here’s the links to the Plath articles I’d like to you to read over the holidays – please have studied and digested these for Monday 24th October. It’ll really help with your understanding of Plath, and get you used to the language of critical writing that you will need to refer to in your dissertations.




Literary Study – Plath

Hello dears,

As you know, on Monday 29th August you will begin writing a Literary Study-style response to a question on Plath and the three questions we have studied so far. This is OPEN BOOK so you can have your plan in front of you, and will have an hour and a half in total.

Make sure your plan is completed for Monday, along with your DISSERTATION PROPOSALS.


  • Using your notes on ‘Blackberrying’, ‘Sleep in the Mojave Desert’ and ‘Arrival of the Bee Box’, you are going to plan a response to the below question.
  • We will write this on Monday and Tuesdays lessons, totalling 90 minutes.

With reference to at least three poems by a particular poet, discuss the effectiveness of the poet’s use of nature and the natural world in the presentation of significant themes and ideas.