Ariel26 Oct 2020 •
Ariel: The Restored Edition by Sylvia Plath
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Reading Sylvia Plath is an experience, turbulent is an understatement. Her poems show her wild and repressed thrashing against her circumstances and on one occasion, I was moved to an extent that I had a nightmare - I cannot remember the last time I had a nightmare - and on many other occasions to pen my own (bad) poetry.
I am terrified by this dark thing
That sleeps in me;
All day I feel its soft, feathery turnings, its malignity.
I knew nothing of her, her life, her work, her suicide at an age I find myself in now, and I took disproportionate interest in learning more of her. And each subsequent poem was another step downwards at night into a deep step-well, a well with some promise of water at its furthest. There is water at the bottom, yes; murky and unstill and with unrepentant poison.
The poison first came into view with the ‘The Jailer’:
He his been burning me with cigarettes,
Pretending I am a negress with pink paws.
As revulsed I was by the word, I was disgusted as I interpreted the dehumanising sense in the use of the word, almost to the extent of denying that very excruciating physical pain she felt to another human - a person of colour.
This was matched by many other lines, some as hard to digest for me as the one I quote above. Here is what I ask myself - how do I feel for a person who I know , if given a chance, would not do the same for me? In this case, because of a certain property of my skin.
There came a point where my mind switched from flailing with her - a fellow human - in her pains to being apathetic observer, almost sadistic. I suppose she is as much a ‘product of her times’ - the defense raised by her ardents - as I am of mine.
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