A tribute to Sylvia Plath!
Some poems of Sylvia Plath:
Burning the Letters:
I made a fire; being tired Of the white fists of old Letters and their death rattle When I came too close to the wastebasket What did they know that I didn’t? Grain by grain, they unrolled Sands where a dream of clear water Grinned like a getaway car. I am not subtle Love, love, and well, I was tired Of cardboard cartons the color of cement or a dog pack Holding in it’s hate Dully, under a pack of men in red jackets, And the eyes and times of the postmarks. This fire may lick and fawn, but it is merciless: A glass case My fingers would enter although They melt and sag, they are told Do not touch. And here is an end to the writing, The spry hooks that bend and cringe and the smiles, the smiles And at least it will be a good place now, the attic. At least I won’t be strung just under the surface, Dumb fish With one tin eye, Watching for glints, Riding my Arctic Between this wish and that wish. So, I poke at the carbon birds in my housedress. They are more beautiful than my bodiless owl, They console me– Rising and flying, but blinded. They would flutter off, black and glittering, they would be coal angels Only they have nothing to say but anybody. I have seen to that. With the butt of a rake I flake up papers that breathe like people, I fan them out Between the yellow lettuces and the German cabbage Involved in it’s weird blue dreams Involved in a foetus. And a name with black edges Wilts at my foot, Sinuous orchis In a nest of root-hairs and boredom– Pale eyes, patent-leather gutturals! Warm rain greases my hair, extinguishes nothing. My veins glow like trees. The dogs are tearing a fox. This is what it is like A read burst and a cry That splits from it’s ripped bag and does not stop With that dead eye And the stuffed expression, but goes on Dyeing the air, Telling the particles of the clouds, the leaves, the water What immortality is. That it is immortal.
Summer grows old, cold-blooded mother. The insects are scant, skinny. In these palustral homes we only Croak and wither. Mornings dissipate in somnolence. The sun brightens tardily Among the pithless reeds. Flies fail us. he fen sickens. Frost drops even the spider. Clearly The genius of plenitude Houses himself elsewhwere. Our folk thin Lamentably.
All day she plays at chess with the bones of the world: Favored (while suddenly the rains begin Beyond the window) she lies on cushions curled And nibbles an occasional bonbon of sin. Prim, pink-breasted, feminine, she nurses Chocolate fancies in rose-papered rooms Where polished higboys whisper creaking curses And hothouse roses shed immortal blooms. The garnets on her fingers twinkle quick And blood reflects across the manuscript; She muses on the odor, sweet and sick, Of festering gardenias in a crypt, And lost in subtle metaphor, retreats From gray child faces crying in the streets.
Dark wood, dark water
This wood burns a dark Incense. Pale moss drips In elbow-scarves, beards From the archaic Bones of the great trees. Blue mists move over A lake thick with fish. Snails scroll the border Of the glazed water With coils of ram’s-horn. Out in the open Down there the late year Hammers her rare and Various metals. Old pewter roots twist Up from the jet-backed Mirror of water And while the air’s clear Hourglass sifts a Drift of goldpieces Bright waterlights are Sliding their quoits one After the other Down boles of the fir.
This is a dark house, very big. I made it myself, Cell by cell from a quiet corner, Chewing at the grey paper, Oozing the glue drops, Whistling, wiggling my ears, Thinking of something else. It has so many cellars, Such eelish delvings! U an round as an owl, I see by my own light. Any day I may litter puppies Or mother a horse. My belly moves. I must make more maps. These marrowy tunnels! Moley-handed, I eat my way. All-mouth licks up the bushes And the pots of meat. He lives in an old well, A stoney hole. He’s to blame. He’s a fat sort. Pebble smells, turnipy chambers. Small nostrils are breathing. Little humble loves! Footlings, boneless as noses, It is warm and tolerable In the bowel of the root. Here’s a cuddly mother.
Some Sylvia Plath trivia:
As a very young poet Plath experimented with the villanelle and other forms. She had been “stimulated” by such writers as D. H. Lawrence, James Joyce, Feodor Dostoevski, Virginia Woolf, Henry James, Theodore Roethke, Emily Dickinson, and later by Robert Lowell and Anne Sexton. She has been linked with Lowell and Sexton as a member of the so-called “confessional” school of poetry.
A tribute to Sylvia Plath!