Face Lift

Plath, Sylvia

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: Jun-13-1996
  • Last revised: Aug-21-2006


After a face lift operation, the protagonist tells the poet, "I’m all right." She describes her voyage into anesthesia, where "Darkness wipes me out like chalk on a blackboard . . . . " Afterward, after the dressings come off, she sees that she has grown backwards, "I’m twenty, / Broody and in long skirts on my first husband’s sofa . . . . " "Old sock-face" is gone--no loss! She wakes, "swaddled in gauze, / Pink and smooth as a baby."


Who is the speaker here? Plath begins by addressing "you" (the person with "good news from the clinic"), but quickly adopts the voice of the patient. The identity of the speaker is confused. Which of the two women has had the face lift? Which one is "swaddled in gauze" and "Mother to myself"?

Primary Source

Crossing the Water


Harper & Row

Place Published

New York