Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Who'd Walk in This Bleak Place?" A Day for Sylvia Plath

What leads us to believe there is superiority in our misery?  What makes our hurt worse than others, our burdens harder to bear?  Isn’t it the same kind of vanity that tells us we are smarter/prettier/better than others?  Unquestionably, there are degrees of misery in different kinds of lives, but aren’t we all damaged?  We all have been through the fire.  Not one of us has escaped whole and unharmed.  We are all disfigured now.  The question becomes what will you do with this destruction.  What you become every day is up to you; as Sylvia Plath wrote:  “…each day demands we create our whole world over.”  No one has the monopoly on misery.  We all get tired from time to time of the chore of moving on, of plowing through what feels like air swarming with ghosts.  I suppose more of the people I have loved are dead now than are living, but I do not take that as permission to stop loving the ones who are left.  Sylvia Plath also wrote:  “Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing.”  Find that one absolutely beautiful thing, whatever it may be to you, and live for it.  As long as your heart is beating, you owe a debt of gratitude to whatever god-force gave you life.  Keep your hopes low, and you will at least be comfortable.


Sylvia Plath

The air is a mill of hooks--

Questions without answer,

Glittering and drunk as flies

Whose kiss stings unbearably

In the fetid wombs of black air under pines in summer.

I remember

The dead smell of sun on wood cabins,

The stiffness of sails, the long salt winding sheets.

Once one has seen God, what is the remedy?

Once one has been seized up

Without a part left over,

Not a toe, not a finger, and used,

Used utterly, in the sun's conflagrations, the stains

That lengthen from ancient cathedrals

What is the remedy?

The pill of the Communion tablet, 

The walking beside still water?  Memory?

Or picking up the bright pieces

Of Christ in the faces of rodents,

The tame flower-nibblers, the ones

Whose hopes are so low they are comfortable--

The humpback in his small, washed cottage

Under the spokes of the clematis.

Is there no great love, only tenderness?

Does the sea

Remember the walker upon it?

Meaning leaks from the molecules.

The chimneys of the city breathe, the window sweats,

The children leap in their cots.

The sun blooms, it is a geranium.

The heart has not stopped.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, I love that poem.

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