and the great Greek scholar, Edith Hamilton...
impeccably lyrical they may say in the current day
and I say too having read you a few years later
after your demise and I say now:
a lightning bolt among the tepid confessionals
of the day your poetry
a charge that illuminates the Heavens
on its way to extinction
sylvia what's in a name
that could so confound
your verses were already this way
what was the rationale
that they could not say so
while you were still among us
and why did you struggle so
to be more widely in print
imprinted as you were with diamond alacrity.
I wonder if
you might have lived
had they not in envy?
barred the way to your daemonic instancy
until at last you become
this self immolating machine
where the Muse and the mask were done
in a poetry that blazed
and fused The Greek Way
with your vivid anguish to a seamless seem
the mask becomes your face
in a display never equaled
this was no longer comparable
with anything anyone anywhere
in the slick magazines
the sleek coteries
a furious pace and you pace around the Sun
half burned already
and the chariots of the sun
in the London flat
with the gas light on you become a legend
where you already might have been one
had things been different
and all that you could sing or say ever after
is a grave
the victory of the insipid
over the Beautiful.
mary angela douglas 12 april 2017
Note On The Poem: Certainly as a poet AND a human being, most definitely as a person who is unashamedly a believer in God and in Jesus Christ as my saviour I am not nor have I ever been a person who wanted to take my own life. Not even in the slightest.
Nor am I a fan AT ALL of poems that would seem to encourage this.
Or of the current trend for decades now of Sylvia Plath imitators.
Whatever I write about in a poem I believe in leaving the light on in the poem and in providing the very valid escape hatch of beauty even in perhaps depicting a difficult situation or frame of mind.
However, I do personally believe that if the strong poetic gift of Sylvia Plath had been appropriately acknowledged in the U.S. as it was in Britain she herself would have turned more to the light in her own poetry, given time.
And I also believe that poetry in the U.S. suffered at that time from an overemphasis on distancing itself from emotional, lyrical epxression on ANY subject and is still suffering from that. I believe on a positive level both within herself and in her poetry Sylvia was trying to breach that wall and we all needed that wall to come down and for the pure lyric voice in poetry to once again fountain and flow in all its colours. Instead through a false sense of modernity, a faux scientific objectivity, poetry became quite stagnant and the lyric tradition in American poetry was virtually abandoned.
I DO NOT want my poem on Sylvia to be read in any other way. Because it is not intended in any other way. I believe in the end she would have been a life affirming person, that she loved poetry, she loved being a poet and she loved her children. Poets of much lesser talent were elevated in the literary magazines of the time where her talent was not and this was for her a final blow. Much in the same way John Keats suffered.
Of course each person is responsible in the end for fighting through whatever there is to fight in order to make their contribution. But something needs to be corrected in the American arts where the cream truly is allowed to rise to the top. And this is ongoing...