Opinions on my essay??
Question: "If you were asked to give a reading of a small section of Sylvia Plath's poems, which would you choose and why?"
Sylvia Plath describes life as being "magically run by two electric currents" and these she names "joyous positive and desparing negative". To completely understand Plath's poetry, a knowledge of her life is required. Her poems mirror incidents in her life, making her poetry reflect her roler-coaster ride of emotions. THese emotions are illustrated through clever imagery and comparisons, making the reader identify with these emotions.
The poem 'Black Rook in Rainy Weather' is a suitable poem to begin with. This poem is about the agonising struggle for the inspiration that makes a poem possible. The image of the black rook "arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain" captures your attention at the beginning of the poem. Plath uses simplie descriptive language to describe the actions of an ordinary rook. Her attention to detail is exemplified in this short opening, with the use of simple adjetives and verbs such as "wet black" and "arranging".
However, any positive imagery in the first stanza is immediately cancelled out by her confession that she is unable to find any inspiration to write her poetry. She declares that the sight of the rook is unable to inspire her fully; "I do not expect a miracle or an accident to set the sight on fire in my eye". Here, she is associating inspiration with fire and light, which mirrors her search for hope. From this point on in the poem, it becomes progressively full of more positive imagery.
In stanza 3 and 4, Plath portrays how ordinary objects in the world can sometimes "set the sight on fire" in her eyes. She believes looking at the sky might provide her with the idea of a poem. Her use of a metaphor to describe the sky giving her "backtalk" is whitty and striking. It is an ideal way to describe her search for inspiration in the sky. She believes that it is possible to gain inspiration from ordinary household objects such as a table and chair. She describes how objects glow if they were to inspire her. The comparison of light shining on these objects with "celestial burning" attaches important religious imagery to the every-day table and chair. Clearly she believes that inspiration is an important characteristic of a poet, something which she thinks she lacks.
Another glimmer of hope is then presented to us by Plath when the black feathers of the rook make another appearance by describing them "shine as to seize my senses". At the beginning of the poem, she seems to doubt that the miracle of inspiration was possible. In contrast, at the end of the poem, Plath seens content that the miracle she so badly desires will eventually come to her: "miracles occur, if you care to call those spasmodic tricks of radiance miracles".
It has often been suggested that success in any walk of life is more down to hard work and effort that to any miraculous burst of inspiration. This poem contrasts this statement by suggesting that inspiration is the key. Without the miracle of inspiration, any attempt to write a poem is doomed to failure. In Plath's poem 'Morning Song', we see evidence of a miracle of life which has inspired her to write the poem. It speaks about the miracle of the birth of her first child, something which she becomes emotionally attached to.
At the beginning of the poem, we can see how the poet feels insecure with the birth of her child. She is not embracing the child as she sees the child as being vunerable to her security: "in a draughty museam, your nakedness shadows our safety". Plath uses an odd comparison of her child to a "fat gold watch". This is a strange metaphor as the child is compared to something of high value. However, a child's value is usually considered priceless to the mother. This cements the fact that she still has not embraced the child.
Plath then gives us an image of a cloud and a mirror. This presents us with an insight into the relationship between mother and child. She describes how the cloud in the reflection of the puddle, which produced this mirror, is broken apart by the wind. This metaphorically describes the relationship between mother and child: "I am no more your mother, than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow effacement at the winds hands".
The tone of the poem then changes. Plath describes the "moth-breath" of her child waking her. She compares its breathing to a "far sea moving in my ear", attaching an unknown and expansive quality to her child. Its breathing reminds her of the tranquil stirrings of a distant sea. Initial insecurities and uncertainties seem to have been replaced with a more relaxed and tempered appreciation if the child.
In contrast with the uncertainty surrounding the relationship between mother and child, we are given a colourful description of the bond that now ties them together. "One cry" and the mother "stumbles" from the bed to tend to the child's needs. Plath mentions that she is waring a "floral" "victorian nightgown" which represents a more positive image compared to the opening of the poem where the language was dull and melancholic. She also compares her child's mouth opening to that of a cat. This is in contrast to the beginning of the poem when Plath comprises her child to a lifeless and inanimate statue; "new statue. In a draughty museum".
From this poem we see the reality of the initial feelings of some mothers. Also, we see that Plath's life has become brighter and more meaningful. She seems to have finally found the inspiration she has been looking for to write her poetry. However, in her poem 'Child', she appears to have lost all hope. This poem was written almost 2 years after 'Morning Song' and 2 weeks before she died.
In the first stanza, Plath declares that her child's eye is "the only one absolutely beautiful tihng". This implies that everything else in her life is tarnished and imperfect. She is concentration on the child's eye, expressing complete joy in the miracle of the child's birth. Her desire is to show the child all good things in life, to segregate him from the solitude she experienced in her won life; "I want to fill it with colours and ducks". The innocent world of the child is far removed from the hopelessness she is experiencing in her adult life.
Her desire to show the child everything good in life grown in the second stanza. Plath conveys images of "april snowdrops, indian pipe, little stalk" to the child. These images are unknown to the child, attaching magical and mysterious qualities to them. The sense of wonder and awe are essential parts of the learning curve of a child, and Plath wants her child to have a normal and happy life unlike her own.
Any positive connotations we gained from this poem are eliminated after the final stanza. She is unable to provide the beauty and happiness the child's eye warrants. Instead of the wonderful items mentioned in the first 3 stanzas of the poem, Plath can only provide the child with "this troublous wrigling of hands, this dark ceiling without a star". This is a cause of great concern and anxiety for Plath. She is incapable of offering the child what he deserves. The "dark ceiling without a star" is a powerful description of the mother's world ao one without hope. It allows for nothing joyous positive and is in stark contrast with the colour and innocence of the earlier lines. These final worda are negative and grim. Plath undoubtedly loves her child but seems helpless and unable to protect him from harm.
These poems I have chosen, I believe, depict Plath's struggle in life most vividly. Anyone reading or listening to these poems would understand her melancholic experiences during her existence. They portray her constant lack of inspiration and her disintegration from the birth of her second child. This is why I would choose to give a public reading of these 3 poems.