Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunday Plath: Before 1956

April 18

the slime of all my yesterdays
rots in the hollow of my skull

and if my stomach would contract
because of some explicable phenomenon
such as pregnancy or constipation

I would not remember you

or that because of sleep
infrequent as a moon of greencheese
that because of food
nourishing as violet leaves
that because of these

and in a few fatal yards of grass
in a few spaces of sky and treetops

a future was lost yesterday
as easily and irretrievably
as a tennis ball at twilight

Sylvia Plath

This poem is placed just after the sonnet Female Author in Plath's Collected Poems, which of course was compiled posthumously by her husband Ted Hughes.

Written before 1956 and therefore listed in the "juvenilia" section, it's nonetheless quintessential Plath. Loose but collar-grabbing rhythms, use of lower-case, and alliteration contrast interestingly with the stodgy iambics of the preceding poem noted above. But it's in the imagery that Plath lets loose her voice.

It seems obvious to me that she was somehow compelled by events to write this. Perhaps, like her Ariel poems presumably, it puts voice to some bizarre revenge.

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