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Some poetry of Sylvia Plath

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  • Krisette Sia
    Lady Lazarus I have done it again. One year in every ten I manage it_____ A sort of walking miracle, my skin Bright as a Nazi lampshade, My right foot A
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 27, 2003
      Lady Lazarus

      I have done it again.
      One year in every ten
      I manage it_____

      A sort of walking miracle, my skin
      Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
      My right foot

      A paperweight,
      My featureless, fine
      Jew linen.

      Peel off the napkin
      O my enemy.
      Do I terrify?-------

      The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
      The sour breath
      Will vanish in a day.

      Soon, soon the flesh
      The grave cave ate will be
      At home on me

      And I a smiling woman.
      I am only thirty.
      And like the cat I have nine times to die.

      This is Number Three.
      What a trash
      To annihilate each decade.

      What a million filaments.
      The Peanut-crunching crowd
      Shoves in to see


      Them unwrap me hand in foot ------
      The big strip tease.
      Gentleman , ladies

      These are my hands
      My knees.
      I may be skin and bone,

      Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
      The first time it happened I was ten.
      It was an accident.

      The second time I meant
      To last it out and not come back at all.
      I rocked shut

      As a seashell.
      They had to call and call
      And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

      Dying
      Is an art, like everything else.
      I do it exceptionally well.

      I do it so it feels like hell.
      I do it so it feels real.
      I guess you could say I've a call.

      It's easy enough to do it in a cell.
      It's easy enough to do it and stay put.
      It's the theatrical

      Comeback in broad day
      To the same place, the same face, the same brute
      Amused shout:

      'A miracle!'
      That knocks me out.
      There is a charge

      For the eyeing my scars, there is a charge
      For the hearing of my heart---
      It really goes.

      And there is a charge, a very large charge
      For a word or a touch
      Or a bit of blood

      Or a piece of my hair on my clothes.
      So, so, Herr Doktor.
      So, Herr Enemy.

      I am your opus,
      I am your valuable,
      The pure gold baby

      That melts to a shriek.
      I turn and burn.
      Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

      Ash, ash---
      You poke and stir.
      Flesh, bone, there is nothing there----

      A cake of soap,
      A wedding ring,
      A gold filling.

      Herr God, Herr Lucifer
      Beware
      Beware.

      Out of the ash
      I rise with my red hair
      And I eat men like air.

      =========================


      Medusa

      Off that landspit of stony mouth-plugs,
      Eyes rolled by white sticks,
      Ears cupping the sea's incoherences,
      You house your unnerving head-God-ball,
      Lens of mercies,


      Your stooges
      Plying their wild cells in my keel's shadow,
      Pusshing by like hearts,
      Red stigmata at the very center,
      Riding the rip tide to the nearest point of departure,


      Dragging their Jesus hair.
      Did I escape, I wonder?
      My mind winds to you
      Old barnacled umbilicus, Atlantic cable,
      Keeping itself, it seems, in a state of miraculous repair.


      In any case, you are always there,
      Tremulous breath at the end of my line,
      Curve of water upleaping
      To my water rod, dazzling and grateful,
      Touching and sucking.


      I didn't call you.
      I didn't call you at all.
      Nevertheless, nevertheless
      You steamed to me over the sea,
      Fat and red, a placenta


      Paralysing the kicking lovers
      . Cobra light
      Squeezing the breath from blood bells
      Of the fuscia. I could draw no breath,
      Dead and moneyless,


      Overexposed, like an X-ray.
      Who do you think you are?
      A Communion wafer? Bluberry Mary?
      I shall take no bite of your body,
      Bottle in which I live,


      Ghastly Vatican.
      I am sick to death of hot salt.
      Green as eunuchs, your wishes
      Hiss at my sins.
      Off, off, eely tentacle!
      There is nothing between us.


      =====================


      The Thin People

      They are always with us, the thin people
      Meager of dimension as the gray people


      On a movie-screen. They
      Are unreal, we say:
      It was only in a movie, it was only
      In a war making evil headlines when we


      Were small that they famished and
      Grew so lean and would not round


      Out their stalky limbs again though peace
      Plumped the bellies of the mice


      Under the meanest table.
      It was during the long hunger-battle


      They found their talent to persevere
      In thinness, to come, later,


      Into our bad dreams, their menace
      Not guns, not abuses,


      But a thin silence.
      Wrapped in flea-ridded donkey skins,


      Empty of complaint, forever
      Drinking vinegar from tin cups: they wore


      The insufferable nimbus of the lot-drawn
      Scapegoat. But so thin,


      So weedy a race could not remain in dreams,
      Could not remain outlandish victims


      In the contracted country of the head
      Any more than the old woman in her mud hut could


      Keep from cutting fat meat
      Out of the side of the generous moon when it


      Set foot nightly in her yard
      Until her knife had pared


      The moon to a rind of little light.
      Now the thin people do not obliterate


      Themselves as the dawn
      Grayness blues, reddens, and the outline


      Of the world comes clear and fills with color.
      They persist in the sunlit room: the wallpaper


      Frieze of cabbage-roses and cornflowers pales
      Under their thin-lipped smiles,


      Their withering kingship.
      How they prop each other up!


      We own no wilderness rich and deep enough
      For stronghold against their stiff


      Battalions. See, how the tree boles flatten
      And lose their good browns


      If the thin people simply stand in the forest,
      Making the world go thin as a wasp's nest


      And grayer; not even moving their bones.

      =====================



      The Applicant

      First, are you our sort of a person?
      Do you wear
      A glass eye, false teeth or a cutch,
      A brace or a hook,
      Rubber breasts or a rubber crotch,

      Stitches to show something's missing? No, no?
      Then How can we give you a thing?
      Stop crying.
      Open your hand.
      Empty? Empty. Here is a hand

      To fill it and willing
      To bring teacups and roll away headaches
      And do whatever you tell it.
      Will you marry it?
      It is guaranteed

      To thumb shut your eyes at the end
      And dissolve of sorrow.
      We make new stock from the salt.
      I notice you are stark naked.
      How about this suit----

      Black and stiff, but not a bad fit.
      Will you marry it?
      It is waterproof, shatterproof, proof
      Against fire and bombs through the roof.
      Believe me, they'll bury you in it.

      Now your head, excuse me, is empty.
      I have the ticket for that.
      Come here, sweetie, out of the closet.
      Well, what do you think of that ?
      Naked as paper to start

      But in twenty-five years she'll be silver,
      A living doll, everywhere you look.
      It can sew, it can cook,
      It can talk, talk, talk.

      It works, there is nothing wrong with it.
      You have a hole, it's a poultice.
      You have an eye, it's an image.
      My boy, it's your last resort.
      Will you marry it, marry it, marry it.


      ==============




      Mirror

      I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
      What ever you see I swallow immediately
      Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike. I am not cruel, only
      truthful---
      The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
      Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
      It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
      I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
      Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
      Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
      Searching my reaches for what she really is.
      Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
      I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
      She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
      I am important to her. She comes and goes.
      Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
      In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
      Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.



      ========================



      I am Vertical

      But I would rather be horizontal.
      I am not a tree with my root in the soil
      Sucking up minerals and motherly love
      So that each March I may gleam into leaf,
      Nor am I the beauty of a garden bed
      Attracting my share of Ahs and spectacularly painted,
      Unknowing I must soon unpetal.
      Compared with me, a tree is immortal
      And a flower-head not tall, but more startling,
      And I want the one's longevity and the other's daring.


      Tonight, in the infinitesimallight of the stars,
      The trees and the flowers have been strewing their cool odors.
      I walk among them, but none of them are noticing.
      Sometimes I think that when I am sleeping
      I must most perfectly resemble them--
      Thoughts gone dim.
      It is more natural to me, lying down.
      Then the sky and I are in open conversation,
      And I shall be useful when I lie down finally:
      Then the trees may touch me for once,
      and the flowers have time for me


      ======================



      Electra on Azalea Path

      The day you died I went into the dirt,
      Into the lightless hibernaculum
      Where bees, striped black and gold,
      sleep out the blizzard
      Like hieratic stones, and the ground is hard.
      It was good for twenty years, that wintering -
      As if you never existed, as if I came
      God-fathered into the world from my mother's belly:
      Her wide bed wore the stain of divinity.
      I had nothing to do with guilt or anything
      When I wormed back under my mother's heart.

      Small as a doll in my dress of innocence
      I lay dreaming your epic, image by image.
      Nobody died or withered on that stage.
      Everything took place in a durable whiteness.
      The day I woke, I woke on Churchyard Hill.
      I found your name, I found your bones and all
      Enlisted in a cramped stone askew by an iron fence.
      In this charity ward, this poorhouse, where the dead
      Crowd foot to foot, head to head, no flower
      Breaks the soil. This is Azalea path.
      A field of burdock opens to the south.
      Six feet of yellow gravel cover you.
      The artificial red sage does not stir
      In the basket of plastic evergreens they put
      At the headstone next to yours, nor does it rot,
      Although the rains dissolve a bloody dye:
      The ersatz petals drip, and they drip red.
      Another kind of redness bothers me:
      The day your slack sail drank my sister's breath
      The flat sea purpled like that evil cloth
      My mother unrolled at your last homecoming.
      I borrow the silts of an old tragedy.
      The truth is, one late October, at my birth-cry
      A scorpion stung its head, an ill-starred thing;
      My mother dreamed you face down in the sea.

      The stony actors poise and pause for breath.
      I brought my love to be ar, and then you died.
      It was the gangrene ate you to the bone
      My mother said: you died like any man.
      How shall I age into that state of mind?
      I am the ghost of an infamous suicide,
      My own blue razor rust ing at my throat.
      O pardon the one who knocks for pardon at
      Your gate, father - your hound-bitch, daughter, friend.
      It was my love that did us both to death.
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