Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sylvia Plath and the Poetry Of Death

Sylvia Plath is the quintessential poet of death. She is the Poet Laureate of morbid thoughts, of every darkness on this earth. She cultivates darkness, gathers it, celebrates it.

The first Plath poem I read was the Daddy poem. It is different in tone, in nature, in structure and form from most of her poems. The present piece is not intended to offer a critique of her poems but to remind myself and the reader of Plath's self fulfilling prophecy of death.
She is not the angel but the queen of death and why not die? There are , she reminds us,'no trees or flowers in the world'. 'there is only a sourness'. and besides, she prefers 'horizontal', the feet are perfected, they say, 'we wont go any more'. she is 'lady Lazarus', come back from the dead.

'like the cat i have got nine lives', she warns. so, she will try to die again. And then, recovering in hospital, she finds the tulips malignant, 'eating her oxygen'.
In the suicide of egg rock, Plath writes a fascinating, stilted style poem that depicts a person walking into the sea. The sea, an abiding image is not a benign friend but an enemy, a kleptomaniac. It is thus necessary to leave because everything is scary.

But one must grieve again. In grantchester meadows, Plath sits uncompromisingly on seemingly benign grass and finds others with a malignant lack of knowledge about her loss.
'Dying is an art like everything else'. Plath must perfect this art and use all the available lives. There must be no mistake because she has suffered the atrocity of sunsets. She has to follow the call.

Sylvia Plath is a master act in celebrating morbidity and a love for Thanatos. But beneath the steely resolution to die is a desperate longing perhaps to survive. Beneath the gloom and the paranoia is a person who aspired to live. In that and in that hope, lives her poetry.


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