If you’re a Sylvia Plath fan, you do not want to miss this epic post by Sheila about Plath’s beautiful volume, Ariel. Sheila has a way of writing about Plath that knocks me to my knees. Check it out!

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  1. Thank you! I always feel a little bit daunted when I start to write about her, and then once I start I can’t stop.

    Tomorrow (or the next day more likely) I have to tackle the Collected Poems. I’m not sure what poem to choose in that whole volume to highlight. What do you suggest? I’ll do whatever you say. I’m at a loss. Something earlier, I was thinking – to show her development … but again, I’m not sure.

  2. Like Full Fathom Five, i was thinking – but also, maybe I should do one of her “juvinilia” poems to show how different they were? Have to figure out my “way in” to talking about that huge huge volume.


  3. Cara Ellison says:

    Full Fathom Five is good because it has the recognizable Sylvia metaphors in place – the sea, legacy, etc. Mussel Hunter at Rock Harbor and Suicide off Egg Rock might be good (they’re famous but still not quite “there” in my opinion). But you know what I would love to see you analyze? Something very early and very raw. Maybe “Song For A Summers Day”. I pick that because it seems so unlike her. It seems influenced by Ted Hughes with all the cows and the walking and the fresh air – but it was written in 1956.

    I dunno. You just can’t go wrong. Pick something and I will gulp it down!

  4. Hmmm – let me go and remind myself about Song for a Summer’s Day. That might be a really good one, because who the hell ever talks about it??

  5. Cara Ellison says:

    Exactly. It’s just collecting dust. Most of her older poems are forgotten in the hullabaloo that is Ariel. I would love to hear you talk about those.

  6. Cara Ellison says:

    Just browsed some of the juvenilia – “Go Get The Goodly Squab”, “Trio of Love Songs” and “Sonnet to Satan” which has this startling line:

    Commanding that corkscrew comet jet forth ink
    to pick the white down in a swivling flood….

    Which sounds a little like “the blood jet of poetry” to me. The “jet” and “ink” contain echoes.

  7. Wow, those are really coming back to me. I remember Go Get the Goodly Squab quite well. Isn’t there a poem about looking at a man way out in the ocean? Not juvenilia – but a Colossus poem? Is it called Man in Black? That one scares the shit out of me, whichever one it is. And I loved Hughes’ poem about it in response in Birthday Letters – how he had no idea how perfectly he fit into her personal myth.

  8. I need to watch Sylvia again, come to think of it. I thought it was damn good. We’ve talked about it before, right?

  9. Cara Ellison says:

    Yes, we have. I recall we both loved Gwyneth Paltrow in that role. She was amazing (and that reminds me I still need to see Country Strong.)

    Yes, Man In Black, from 1959

    Where the three magenta
    Breakwaters take the shove
    And suck of the gray sea

    To the left, and the wave
    Unfists against the dun
    Barb-wired headland of

    The Deer Island prison
    With its trim piggeries
    Hen huts and cattle green

    To the right, and March ice
    Glazes the rock pools yet
    Snuff-colored sand cliffs rise

    Over a great stone pit
    Bared by each falling tide
    And you, across those white

    Stones, strode out in your dead
    Black coat, black shoes, and your
    Black hair till there you stood

    Fixed vortex on the far
    Tip, riveting stones, air,
    All of it, together

    Freaking cold and haunting. Wow, she had a way, didn’t she? God. She existed. She was dead before I was born, but she fucking existed. Message received loud and clear, Sylvia.

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