Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Plath: Before the Coming


Compelled by calamity's magnet
They loiter and stare as if the house
Burnt-out were theirs, or as if they thought
Some scandal might any minute ooze
From a smoke-choked closet into light;
No deaths, no prodigious injuries
Glut these hunters after an old meat,
Blood-spoor of the austere tragedies.

Mother Medea in a green smock
Moves humbly as any housewife through
Her ruined apartments, taking stock
Of charred shoes, the sodden upholstery:
Cheated of the pyre and the rack,
The crowd sucks her last tear and turns away.

Sylvia Plath

1959 may have been the best year of Plath's short life. Married to Ted Hughes and back home in Massachusetts, she studied with confessional poet Robert Lowell and met fellow poet Anne Sexton. Then Ted and Plath spent the summer traveling and camping throughout the western part of the United States. Upon invitation, they spent the fall at Yaddo. Sylvia also found out she was finally pregnant, after long fearing she might have been unable to conceive.

This was one of the last poems she wrote before her "Ariel" voice began to emerge. Even here though, Plath deeply and darkly mines herself. But maintaining form; in this case another sonnet.

The Ravaged Face, written just a little later that spring, was probably the last time Plath resorted to the sonnet scheme.


Ruth said...

Mother Medea - always wrapped in memory with Mercedes McCambridge's voice, because I saw a stunning production of 'Medea' with her in the leading role.

Happy Christmas.

Libby Spencer said...

Merry Merry and peace and joy to you and yours.

Funny WV: pronyr