Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sylvia

I was never one for poetry sophomore year (look at me now!), but even then, when I thought that poetry was silly and a frivolous extension of writing I've always admired Sylvia Plath. In tenth grade English we read Lady Lazarus. These words resonated with me even then. Maybe it was because I started to understand ones need to stick ones head into an oven? Maybe it was because I was starting to explore the more creative, dark side of writing?

Anyway, my favorite part of Lady Lazarus reads:

Dying
Is an art, like everything else. 
I do it exceptionally well. 

I do it so it feels like hell. 
I do it so it feels real. 
I guess you could say I've a call. 

This is just one of the pieces from The Restored Edition of Ariel, A Facsimile of Plath's Manuscript, Reinstating Her Original Selection and Arrangement. I picked up this about a month ago have been studying the life and work of Plath since.

Aside from Lady Lazarus and the darkness it encompasses, I've also been transfixed by Plath's use of personification lately, especially the personification of the moon. Her romanticism of the moon and its majestic qualities brings a light to her work that adds a powerful contrast to the rest of the pieces.

One of my favorite examples of this is from The Moon and Yew Tree:

I have fallen a long way. Clouds are flowering
Blue and mystical over the face of the stars. 
Inside the church, the saints will be all blue, 
Floating on their delicate feet over the cold pews, 
Their hands and faces stiff with holiness. 
The moon sees nothing of this. She is bald and wild. 
And the message of the yew tree is blackness-blackness and silence.

Plath uses the moon as a wise and all powerful symbol. Something to covet or strive for. Another example of this is from Elm:

The moon, also, is merciless; she would drag me 
Cruelly, being barren. 
Her radiance scathes me. Or perhaps I have caught her. 

The moon is not the only natural symbol that Plath utilizes. She also writes much about the sea, the stars, hills and plains and forests. By attaching emotions and feeling to these seemingly unemotional natural aspects her works seems to come to life. One of the best examples of Plath's use of personification of natural elements is found in Berck-Plage:

The gery sky lowers, the hills like a green sea
Run fold upon fold far off, concealing their hollows. 

Through studying Plath and her uses of romanticism of nature, and personification of the emotional aspects of the environment around, her I hope to be able to recreate these literary devices within my own writing.

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