• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Cold Knap Lake.

Extracts from this document...


Cold Knap Lake This poem is about an incident from the poet's childhood. Cold Knap Lake is a real place near Barry in Glamorgan, South Wales. It is a Bronze Age burial site, and something of a local beauty spot. A little girl is drowned in the lake, or so it seems, but the poet's mother gives her the kiss of life, and her (the poet's) father takes the child home. The girl's parents are poor and beat her as a punishment. At this point, the poet wonders whether she, too, "was...there" and saw this (the beating, rather than the rescue) or not. The poem is inconclusive - the writer sees the incident as one of many things that are lost "under closing water". ...read more.


The poet notes how her mother's concern is selfless - she gives "her breath" to "a stranger's child". (We can contrast this with the poet's admission of her own coldness to someone else's child in Baby-sitting.) The image also suggests the miracle of creation as related in Genesis (the first book of the Bible), where God gives Adam life, by breathing into his nostrils. Back to top The poet does not condemn, but seems shocked by, the child's being "thrashed for almost drowning". But for all we know, the parents who beat her thought this was the right way to teach their daughter to be more careful. ...read more.


Cold Knap Lake is where these things really happened, but its association with lost history and things being buried and rediscovered later may echo the ideas in the poem. Apart from the extended analogy of the "troubled surface" (which was literally present but also works metaphorically) there are very few metaphors in the poem ("long green silk" and "closing water" - can you find any others?). Back to top * How does Gillian Clarke present memory in this poem? * What do you think of the motif (thematic image) of water in Cold Knap Lake? * How does the poet use images of things that were literally present and metaphors (there are very few) in this poem? * In your own words, explain what you think the poet is saying in the last six-line stanza and the rhyming couplet that follows it. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sylvia Plath section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Sylvia Plath essays

  1. How do Hughes and Hardy both use memory in their poems?

    Assia was all Sylvia wanted to be, so in her mind, this is Ted ran off with her. Despite the fact that this was not her at all, Sylvia takes on the identity of being Jewish. It is like the only way Sylvia can be what she wants is through her poems.

  2. The three poems I have chosen to compare are 'A Parental Ode To My ...

    I think that the mother said 'hot, white room' because she was too frustrated to actually think where she was while giving birth, and this leads on to my next point. How did I know she was giving birth? Well we have already learnt that she was in hospital from

  1. "Morning Song" and "Sonnet 19"

    The Simile: 'Love set you going like a Fat Gold Watch', Is at the start of the poem and has many hidden meanings. As well as it being the start of the poem it is also the start of the baby's life.

  2. The Present

    Alem simply loved presents. He could make out his parents behaving rather secretive recently. They were hiding something from Alem which he did not know about. Alem saw a pile of wrapped presents in a corner. He rushed towards it, but, 'Alem, dear, could you leave those for later,' said his Mum.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work