Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Sylvia Plath

Die young, stay pretty.

Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Holly, Artur Rimbaud, Shelley, Keats, Byron. Who wouldn't rather be James Dean than Marlon Brando?

There are many theories as to why Sylvia Plath killed herself, Ted Hughes' adultery, the pressures of caring for two young children as a single mother in the coldest winter in a strange, dreary city, a million victim mongering feminist fantasies.

She was always in love with death. Death drips from the poems. The Bell Jar is one long love letter to suicide.

But Sylvia Plath wanted only one thing. She wanted to be a poet. She wanted to write the perfect poem. She'd found little commercial or critical success in her life, all that came later, in her beatification, but what she wanted was the words.

And then, in that last fevered burst of creativity, writing 'Arial', the poems that made her name, she wrote this.

The perfect poem.

Sheep in Fog

The hills step off into whiteness.
People or stars
Regard me sadly, I disappoint them.

The train leaves a line of breath.
O slow
Horse the colour of rust,

Hooves, dolorous bells -
All morning the
Morning has been blackening,

A flower left out.
My bones hold a stillness, the far
Fields melt my heart.

They threaten
To let me through to a heaven
Starless and fatherless, a dark water.

She'd done it. She'd written the perfect poem. Her aching heart's desire. There was nowhere else to go. Nothing else to do. At last she could let go.

Sheep in Fog. The poem that made her. The poem that killed her.

She killed herself because she knew

she was immortal already.


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