Monday, February 11, 2013

Sylvia Plath: 5 Decades Without Her Ear

Today is the 50th anniversary of Sylvia Plath's suicide.

If you only think of her as a shrill, suicidal writer of frenzied verse, you owe it to yourself to give her another look.

My suggestion is that you start with the Plath poem I started on, "Blackberrying," and The Bee Poems.

Today's poem will be one I wrote for her. We'll get back to Mr. Hilbert tomorrow. Today, read a poem for Sylvia.

Sylvia’s Bees

Where is the spring now, mother?

Black and balled and fat on syrup, we were forgotten.
In the hell of gas and words, our faint buzz went unheard.
Sleepy in the end of Winter, we never questioned the silence;
everyone else was hibernating too, dumb February
with the dark slowly dying, giving way to the glow of gold.
It was on the Feast of Fools we first opened our eyes.

The workers' frantic dance was no flower song, a hollow message
poured out from the ragged wings: there were no flowers to be had.
The patterns had all changed, the tin syrup was crust in the pan.
Where is the one who harbors us when the world is dead?
What is this dismal place, where the crisp calling of birds
and the taste of flowers are dead, dead, forever dead?

There is no one now who remembers the truth of the Summer.
We are all virgins released into a frozen Spring.
The air is dead here, we have no sound that is not enormous
and swallowed whole by the empty hearts of earth and trees.
We are lost, the tin syrup calls her name to us, the goddess;
but she is gone like the fragrant memory of absent flowers.

Our promise is the sentence of life and death and choice
and now we have no choice; the nothing drones on and on.
The stale air that chokes in its immobility stares and gapes
as the faint sound of wings creeps in through the mossy stone
and echoes off the facets in our now fragmented minds,
secreting the message that somewhere beyond these walls Spring still goes on.

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