Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sunday Plath: Yaddo Mushrooms


Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.

Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.

Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,

Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,

Perfectly voiceless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We

Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!

We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot's in the door.

Sylvia Plath

This is one of Plath's "Yaddo" poems, written while she enjoyed a quiet stay at that Saratoga Springs artist retreat in 1959.

The mansion's grounds are riddled with all manner of ponds, gardens (particularly the wonderful rose gardens) and statues. Plenty of moist shady patches among the old pines where mushrooms were sure to take hold.

"Mushrooms" was included in her first published collection The Colossus and Other Poems.

At first this poem just seemed to me to be a formal exercise. But after reading about Plath I now realize how it effervesces with the possibilities and genius then rising up out of her. It was here that her nascent "Ariel" voice began to emerge. Like mushrooms do. Invisibly, from the earth.

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Thanks, what a wonderful poem, and it reminds me of the photo FeralLiberal put up this a.m.

toeses indeed!