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    Friday, March 31, 2006

    Plath Or Sexton?!

    Squishy Sexy says:

    *You're either a Plath girl or a Sexton girl, the way you're either a Pearl Jam person or a Nirvana person.

    Is this true? I agree on the Nirvana-Pearl Jam thing (and I am sooooooooo a Nirvana person), but must one choose between Sexton and Plath? And, if so, does one ever heal?

    I, unusually perhaps, got into Sexton first and thought myself a "Sexton girl" until one furtive, late-night encounter with Ariel.
    A taste of each:

    Burning the Letters
    By Sylvia Plath

    I made a fire; being tired
    Of the white fists of old
    Letters and their death rattle
    When I came too close to the wastebasket.
    What did they know that I didn't?
    Grain by grain, they unrolled
    Sands where a dream of clear water
    Grinned like a getaway car.
    I am not subtle
    Love, love, and well, I was tired
    Of cardboard cartons the color of cement or a dog pack
    Holding in its hate
    Dully, under a pack of men in red jackets,
    And the eyes and times of the postmarks.


    This fire may lick and fawn, but it is merciless:
    A glass case
    My fingers would enter although
    They melt and sag, they are told
    Do not touch.
    And here is an end to the writing,
    The spry hooks that bend and cringe and the smiles, the smiles
    And at least it will be a good place now, the attic.
    At least I won't be strung just under the surface,
    Dumb fish
    With one tin eye,
    Watching for glints,
    Riding my Arctic
    Between this wish and that wish.

    So, I poke at the carbon birds in my housedress.
    They are more beautiful than my bodiless owl,
    They console me--
    Rising and flying, but blinded.
    They would flutter off, black and glittering, they would be coal angels
    Only they have nothing to say to anybody.
    I have seen to that.
    With the butt of a rake
    I flake up papers that breathe like people,
    I fan them out
    Between the yellow lettuces and the German cabbage
    Involved in its weird blue dreams,
    Involved in a foetus.
    And a name with black edges

    Wilts at my foot,
    Sinuous orchis
    In a nest of root-hairs and boredom--
    Pale eyes, patent-leather gutturals!
    Warm rain greases my hair, extinguishes nothing.
    My veins glow like trees.
    The dogs are tearing a fox. This is what it is like--
    A red burst and a cry
    That splits from its ripped bag and does not stop
    With the dead eye
    And the stuffed expression, but goes on
    Dyeing the air,
    Telling the particles of the clouds, the leaves, the water
    What immortality is. That it is immortal


    Wanting to Die
    by Anne Sexton


    Since you ask, most days I cannot remember.
    I walk in my clothing, unmarked by that voyage.
    Then the almost unnameable lust returns.

    Even then I have nothing against life.
    I know well the grass blades you mention,
    the furniture you have placed under the sun.

    But suicides have a special language.
    Like carpenters they want to know which tools.
    They never ask why build.

    Twice I have so simply declared myself,
    have possessed the enemy, eaten the enemy,
    have taken on his craft, his magic.

    In this way, heavy and thoughtful,
    warmer than oil or water,
    I have rested, drooling at the mouth-hole.

    I did not think of my body at needle point.
    Even the cornea and the leftover urine were gone.
    Suicides have already betrayed the body.

    Still-born, they don't always die,
    but dazzled, they can't forget a drug so sweet
    that even children would look on and smile.

    To thrust all that life under your tongue!--
    that, all by itself, becomes a passion.
    Death's a sad Bone; bruised, you'd say,

    and yet she waits for me, year after year,
    to so delicately undo an old wound,
    to empty my breath from its bad prison.

    Balanced there, suicides sometimes meet,
    raging at the fruit, a pumped-up moon,
    leaving the bread they mistook for a kiss,

    leaving the page of the book carelessly open,
    something unsaid, the phone off the hook
    and the love, whatever it was, an infection.

    3 Comments:

    Blogger quakerdave said...

    Neither. Never liked either of them. 'Course, I'm a guy, but still.

    1:27 PM  
    Blogger EL said...

    Never liked Plath ... or Sexton?

    You poor poor man!

    1:45 PM  
    Blogger quakerdave said...

    Nope. Sexton maybe a wee little bit. Not Plath. WAY too self-indulgent. I like my poets with politics, and a bit of spine. Adrienne Rich, Grace Paley, Audre Lourde, Sonia Sanchez, Joy Harjo.. Have no pity for this poor man: got lots of poetry to keep me going! ;)

    10:08 PM  

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