Of all the ghosts there are to be afraid of I am afraid of Sylvia’s most of all. Last month I ordered a copy of her poetry collection The Colossus and when I got the call to pick it up I became nervous as if I were going on a date. I think maybe why I am so careful about reading her is because her writing was paid for with her life and if she doesn’t have my undivided attention while reading it then I feel sort of guilty. I greatly value Sylvia’s works and I dont want to take any of it lightly. When I received the book I noticed unlike The Belle Jar she had thoughtfully included a table of contents and that one of the titles was a birthday poem of seven parts (or else seven birthday poems) and so I decided to wait until my birthday to read that one. I haven’t been able to bring myself to read any other part of it yet. I feel confident in reading it selectively because I named my feline familiar after her and because I have already read The Belle Jar. Reading her is somewhat intimidating because its almost as if she is reading you (like the feeling of always being watched) and I can almost see her eyes looking at me between the void and the vibrations.
I always end up loving her writing but it makes me so nervous to read it. I often find myself holding my breath until the end of her sentences. I can read the Bible fine, The Revelation, The Quran, but I always feel like reading her words is somehow like being naked with her because I know she can see inside my mind. When I read her I put out my cleanest thoughts like the fine China at an especially humble dinner party. Its commonly remarked by her readers that they feel as though they understand her better than everyone else. Its part of her magick and its lovely but I can almost feel the ground shake when I read her. Summoning her is like calling fourth a fierce and terrible hunteress who already has the home field advantage as you step into her territory. Sylvia often wrote about doubles and so her poem Death and Co. personally resonates with me because of both the Lamb and because of my birthmark(s). I only say this because I have a remnant perception of mortal doom that Sylvia’s writing constantly reminds me of. Its like looking into an ‘obsidian mirror’ (the Nietzschean Eternity) or ‘how the abyss also gazes into you’, I suppose.
Death & Co.
by Sylvia Plath
Two, of course there are two.
It seems perfectly natural now —
The one who never looks up, whose eyes are lidded
And balled? like Blake’s.
The birthmarks that are his trademark —
The scald scar of water,
Verdigris of the condor.
I am red meat. His beak
Claps sidewise: I am not his yet.
He tells me how badly I photograph.
He tells me how sweet
The babies look in their hospital
Icebox, a simple
Frill at the neck
Then the flutings of their Ionian
Then two little feet.
He does not smile or smoke.
The other does that
His hair long and plausive
Masturbating a glitter
He wants to be loved.
I do not stir.
The frost makes a flower,
The dew makes a star,
The dead bell,
The dead bell.
Somebody’s done for.
I am certainly not trying to self-aggrandize because in the first place its such a dreadful constraint. More over I would I never admit to masturbating with glitter nor would I ever tell Sylvia how badly she photographs but still the bit about the birthmarks really gets my head wrapped. Its all part of the sweet dread of reading Sylvia. Its like I can sometimes feel her right there beside me teaching me to paint with my own words. Its a nice feeling. I think that ‘observer effect’ can go along way especially in the case of a high level wordsmith like Sylvia Plath but the other way of saying just that statement is that she was indeed clairvoyant and her work described various form-constants in the Aether of our collective unconsciousness. Her writing is her running with the nightmares.
Currently ‘Daddy’ is my favorite poem and probably because its so serious-funny. It reminds me of a female dictator taking affirmative action against the male patriarchy in a once-and-for-all sort of way. The woman is followed by an army females (Who are called the Swastikettes) are all properly dressed in Elvish military regalia, goose stepping in the streets and reciting the poem in perfect unison. For some reason according to my own imagination the poem works like a magick spell and burns away misogyny like vampires melting in the sunlight, and so upon finding an offending man they rush in surrounding him, enunciating, speaking every word, raising their voices loud and clear as they surround the unwary misogynist burning him as he clutches is ears in agony. I find this amusing. Like the episode of Seinfeld when Kramer got shit-kicked by his karate class of children or like what happened on Blade.