a prophetic poem by sylivia plath

written as an undergraduate, 18 or 19?

but that essential timidity and seeking of 'safety' by the american women on these (autism ed.) message boards



Tea leaves thwart those who court catastrophe,

designing futures where nothing will occur:

cross the gypsy’s palm and yawning she

will still predict no perils left to conquer.

Jeopardy is jejune now: naïve knight

finds ogres out-of-date and dragons unheard

of, while blasé princesses indict

tilts at terror as downright absurd.

The beast in Jamesian grove will never jump,

compelling hero’s dull career to crisis;

and when insouciant angels play God’s trump,

while bored arena crowds for once look eager,

hoping toward havoc, neither pleas nor prizes

shall coax from doom’s blank door lady or tiger.


actually if she had a been older when she wrote this she might have leaned towards the inversions of life whereby seeking safety, doom's blank door rips you apart, not to mention the selfish ferocity of these these selfsame women following the illusion of conventional life and thier attempts to preserve the illusion

what is sad to me is that this poem is before her electroconvulsive treament and shows a sinew, complexity and energy that was never realised in later poetry. janet frame has the same curtailment

and yet the beast did jump

and clawing your back

did you not notice?


descant  from the borders of hebetude ”

lorelei by sylvia plath

this is actually quite a good poem to teach people to read a poem, you can see plath is really autistic if you look at the phrase in the subject header for this section, you have to look up words to understand the poem

“ hebetude ” means dullness of mind and lorelei is best looked up in wikipedia

poor woman, she knew what had happened to her brain

It is no night to drown in:

A full moon, river lapsing

Black beneath bland mirror-sheen,

The blue water-mists dropping

Scrim after scrim like fishnets

Though fishermen are sleeping,

The massive castle turrets

Doubling themselves in a glass

All stillness. Yet these shapes float

Up toward me, troubling the face

Of quiet. From the nadir

They rise, their limbs ponderous

With richness, hair heavier

Than sculptured marble. They sing

Of a world more full and clear

Than can be. Sisters, your song

Bears a burden too weighty

For the whorled ear's listening

Here, in a well-steered country,

Under a balanced ruler.

Deranging by harmony

Beyond the mundane order,

Your voices lay siege. You lodge

On the pitched reefs of nightmare,

Promising sure harborage;

By day, descant from borders

Of hebetude, from the ledge

Also of high windows. Worse

Even than your maddening

Song, your silence. At the source

Of your ice-hearted calling --

Drunkenness of the great depths.

O river, I see drifting

Deep in your flux of silver

Those great goddesses of peace.

Stone, stone, ferry me down there.


interesting to  hear a poet outside their poems, sorta demystifies them a bit

interviews      part 1        part 2

there's something i don't quite like about her, not sure what it is

too conformist, a snob ?

anyway, all that work to then kill yourself


possibly her imagery doesn't hit or bite enough

conceptually sound but not quite

her popularity should be a warning

empty heads persuing eggshell fragments

just the usual i guess


she took a lot of her concepts from audens  “as i walked out one evening”

and she really is writing prose

all the same her best poems are genius

but just lacking something, maybe true poetic density

images that shut down the brain

her's sorta dribble


janet frame and sylvia plath both have the same fault, that of being unecessarily obscure


in the interview part 2 she says that in ariel she had to read the poems aloud to understand them, but in colossus they were not written to be read aloud and she didn't like those poems anymore

i notice ennui reads ok aloud and can only put this loss of theory of mind down to the ECT which ruined her