Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Plath:Collected Poems

My husband bought me this for Christmas. It's the most complete collection of her poems ever assembled.

I already have the Ariel Restored Edition, and I've found it devastating to read and to see how she was honing herself into this arrow that is set to leave all behind her, including her children.

One of my many plans is to scan all the drafts into the pc and then line them side by side to visually see the development of the poem. (But I may just stick them up on the wall instead.)

The Collected Poems book goes from the late 1950s right through to her death, and interestingly also includes a set of early poems in a section called "Juvenilia" from her time at university in the States. The growth she made in her short life is just astounding.

This may sound crass but I really wish there had been modern anti-depressants available back then and perhaps more recognition of the symptoms of post natal depression, as it might just have saved her life.

The poems are wonderful, though at times I feel a bit like a voyeur. But it's not all doom and gloom, Balloons is funny and sad all at the same time, and Child is so touching:

"Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing.
I want to fill it with color and ducks,
The zoo of the new"

I'm also struck by her fantastic ability to capture nature,and I especially like the bee poems. We have a hive in the "big garden" and I've been guilty of taking the lid off and photographing the organised chaos inside - without smoke or special clothing I might add. She exactly captures everything about a hive and bees, especially the sound.

Here's an interview she did in 1962, the year before she died
where she mentions liking the woman who taught her about bees more than most poets. She said she liked people with practical skills. I do too, my biggest hero as a child was the man who taught me to tie fishing flies, he had hands like hams and the patience of a saint.

Anyway lots to savour.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous guyana-gyal said...

I read her book some time back, The Bell Jar and it left me scared for a long time. I wonder what effect her poetry would have on me now...

1:01 pm  
Blogger apprentice said...

I think I find it more accessible and somehow less too now that I'm older.

I fear passion defeats me these days. I remember it like an affection for a place, maybe Paris when I was a mad eighteen year old. But I feel like some wistful old old aunt who saying, "Oh yes passion, I rember it well, just don't ask me to go there!"

2:17 pm  

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