The prince leans to the girl in scarlet heels,
The whole revolving tall glass palace hall
And glided couples all in whirling trance
As amid the hectic music and cocktail talk
He loved her and she loved him.
In this essay, I have compared the poems “Cinderella” of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes´ poem “Lovesong”.
The poem of Sylvia Plath “Cinderella” is a sonnet. It is divided in three quatrains and a couplet; the rhyme scheme is: abab cdcd efef gg.
As the title says, the poem is about the famous fairy-tale “Cinderella”. The poem is situated on the scene, when Cinderella and the prince are at the ball. But suddenly, she becomes pale, it is almost 12 o´clock and she has to go.
The poem can clearly be divided in two parts:
- 1st, the two quatrains at the beginning: when they are at the ball, in the palace.
- 2nd, the third quatrain and the couplet: the girl becomes aware of the time, and that she has to go.
So, this poem narrates a part of a famous tale that everyone is supposed to know. We know all that has happened before, and also the reasons why she has to go. Cinderella is like living a dream, but it is going to finish soon. The poem centres on the feeling of having to go, the proximity of the ending of a dream.
It is not presented as a happy passage, also they are in a ball. The melancholy of the poem is quite present. Also the couple are together in a happy situation, they are not enjoying that moment. Because she has in mind the fact of the time.
She knows she is living a dream that is going to end very soon. This can be a thought present in the mind of the poem, she feels like Cinderella. Maybe Plath is also afraid of the ending of this dream and she is not able to enjoy it.
The clock is a clear symbol of time. Time goes by and with time all good things end. Also dreams go by and reality comes back.
The isolation of the girl is also seen in the poem. She is with her love in a love plenty of people. But she does not seem to share with them the moment. She also is described as a strange girl, there is certain mystery around her. For the prince she is also a strange girl, that he does not really know.
This isolation between one and the other is also seen in the way they are presented. There is a social difference between them. He is a prince, and she is only a girl, her name only appears in the title. She has no name in the poem.
Taking into account that she is a woman who writes the poem, we can guess how she feels through the poem. Sylvia Plath identifies herself with Cinderella, she loves a man that she considers more powerful than her. She considers herself as an anonymous person compared with Hughes. So, in this poem both lovers are not at the same level.
Ted Hughes´poem “Lovesong” is divided in six stanzas.
In the first one, the love situation is presented. He loves her, and she loves him. Their love is corresponded.
In the second stanza: they are enjoying that moment together.
In the third stanza: there is an enumeration of the physical situation, also the kisses, caresses they give each other.
In the fourth stanza, that is a couplet: after the physical encounter, they sleep.
In the fifth stanza: while they are sleeping they are together.
The final verse, as a conclusion, says that when they get up in the morning, one had become the other.
As the title says, this poem is about love. It is the story of the love of a couple. The first thing the poem says is that they love each other. So their love is corresponded, and it is the important thing.
Then, everything is described is an explicit physical encounter between these lovers. First, the feelings are presented; then the physical action. But all these action is full of love feelings. The physical encounter is a consequence of their love. They express all the love they feel through kisses, caresses…
The poem is full of enumerations (Her laughs, his looks, his caresses…). It is like trying to express with words his feelings, the poet starts expressing all and cannot stop.
Also in the poem there is parallelism in the words. Such parallelism is represented by the lovers, they love each other in the same degree.
These two poems have in common the love theme. But the poets express it in a different way.
The tone of the poems is quite different. In “Cinderella” there is a certain sadness, also the lovers are together. Whereas in “Lovesong” they love each other and see how they enjoy the moment being together.
“Cinderella” ends in a kind of suspense. But it is supposed that the reader knows the tale. Here, there is a separation of the lovers. In “Lovesong”, at the end, the couple is so united that one becomes the other.
In Hughes´ poem, the characters have no name, they are he and she. They could be any couple of lovers. But they are at the same level.
In Plath´s poem, in the couple only the prince has a name. She is referred to as the girl. She only has a name in the title. This shows that they are not at the same social level.
In one poem and in the other, time is given different importance. In “Cinderella” she knows time goes by, but she does nothing to enjoy the time she has. In “Lovesong” time is not important; what is important is the present moment, future or past does not matter. We do not know how much time they have to be together, but they enjoy the moment in which they are.
After analysing these poems and taking into account who writes the poem; we can see the differences in how they express themselves in a poem.
Sylvia Plath uses the device of a fairy-tale to express how she feels. Whereas, Hughes describes a love scene where the protagonist is the physical encounter.
So, the woman can not limit to describe the love scene. She can not take into account only love; there are other external features that influence her perceptions. Her personal situation influences the poem very much.
For Hughes, there is only important the present moment. Time does not exist or anything more.
When we reed Hughes poem we see described what he wants to tell; but when we read Plath´s poem we notice that there is something more behind what she says.