Some of you may roll your eyes, but I feel like I can’t really celebrate National Poetry Month without posting something by Sylvia Plath. I first encountered her when I had to write a poetry paper in 10th grade and randomly chose to read her collected anthology; until that point, I had never disliked reading verse, per say, but I never quite connected with the Romantic poets or the basic road-not-taken naturey Robert Frost packet that was typically handed out in middle school.
Sylvia Plath was the first poet who made me feel something, who made me want to read more. There is so much more to her than The Bell Jar or “Daddy,” which seems to be the poem that is always plucked out for scrutiny by high school English teachers. Her journals perhaps are her true masterpiece; raw and beautiful and intricately detailed, her entries illuminate a complex life that was–and is–incredibly misunderstood. But her poems are no small feat either–she wrote hundreds before she committed suicide in 1963 at the age of 30, opening up the gates for both confessional poetry (as Robert Lowell had done for her) and for more verse written by women, as well.
The following is one of my favorite Plath poems, perhaps a bit shorter and more subtle than many of her others, but still equally powerful in its tender imagery of a mother and an infant. Knowing that Plath’s only son, Nicholas, took his own life only two weeks ago at the age of 47 makes this poem a little darker for me. How tragic that his clear, child eye had to cloud over with the years, encountering only the dark, starless depression that his mother once suffered from as well.
Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing.
I want to fill it with color and ducks,
The zoo of the new
Whose name you meditate–
April snowdrop, Indian pipe,
Stalk without wrinkle,
Pool in which images
Should be grand and classical
Not this troublous
Wringing of hands, this dark
Ceiling without a star.