Thursday, 4 October 2007

October poet: Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)


Mirror

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful-
The eye of the little god, four cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.


I'll admit up front that I have a morbid fascination with both Plath's tragic personal story and her poetry. There's something about suicides: you know these guys were in deadly earnest. The darkness in their work is real.

Plath had a way of delving into the recesses of the psyche and bringing what she found there to the light: Here. Look at it. Mirror does that. Here is every woman's secret dread, secret horror.

She was married to the English poet Ted Hughes, and took her life after finding out about his affair with Assia Wevill, who was pregnant with Hughes' child at the time of Plath's death. Wevill moved in with Hughes and took care of his and Plath's two children and the daughter she had by him. She later killed herself and her daughter in a bizarre reenactment of Plath's suicide.

Adorers of Plath repeatedly vandalize her gravestone by chiselling off the name 'Hughes'.

2 comments:

Pacha said...

I have a similar morbid fascination with Sylvia Plath and her writing and life. She is responsible for a lot of my (bad) poetry. Not that her poetry was ever bad, mind. Her poetry is perfect and beautiful - the words roll off my tongue when I read it out loud. Her imagery is so succinct.*sigh* Her poetry is both so inspiring and sooooo sad!

wordtryst said...

Hi Pasha, and welcome to my blog. I rarely try to write poetry because I think of people like Plath and feel defeated before I even begin. Besides, poetry is so revealing. I admire the courage of poets because they are naked on the page.

It seems to me that the best poetry is always the saddest.