The Sunday Post // The Sunday Poet #6

The Sunday Post // The Sunday Poet #6

Hello everyone! How has your week been? This week has been a week of though-provoking classes. In my Representing Contemporary Cultures module we have moved onto looking at 9/11 – how the way it was represented through the media and literature affects how people discuss and even perceive what happened. It got me thinking – how long a gap is necessary before literature can truly deal with such a world-changing event? This week’s poem is Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath which was published posthumously in 1965 in the collection Ariel. In it she connects holocaust imagery with the oppression she feels because she is not allowed to die – despite her multiple attempts. The gap between the events she draws upon and the poems publication is twenty years – yet we still feel the enormity of her meaning today. All the literature and even the films about 9/11 are still in their nascent stages compared to this, will it take a longer passage of time before language can truly express people’s feelings surrounding  9/11 and the events that happened as a result?

The Sunday Poet #6

Lady Lazarus – Sylvia Plath

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it——

A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot

A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.

Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?——

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.

Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me

And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.

This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.

What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see

Them unwrap me hand and foot——
The big strip tease.
Gentlemen, ladies

These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,

Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.

The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut

As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

Dying
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I’ve a call.

It’s easy enough to do it in a cell.
It’s easy enough to do it and stay put.
It’s the theatrical

Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:

‘A miracle!’
That knocks me out.
There is a charge

For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart——
It really goes.

And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood

Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.

I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby

That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

Ash, ash—
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there——

A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.

Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Beware
Beware.

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

The Sunday Post #6

What I’ve read…

  • Ariel by Sylvia Plath: I’ve loved this collection of poetry ever since I first encountered it. The poem I included above is really haunting, not just because of its references to the Holocaust but because I read it as a woman eating/removing the doctors that treat her as if she were something precious so that the next time she tries, she might finally die.
  • Black Dogs by Ian McEwan: this was recommended by a fellow student on my MA course when we were discussing books that defined an era. It follows the story of a once-married couple, how their different world views caused them to separate and how the terrifying vision that the wife had on their honeymoon caused this irreparable divide.
  • Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess: I’m sure hundreds of other people have bought this book for the very same reason that I have –the best first sentence ever. ‘It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.’ I’ve only just begun this very long novel but I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

And the rest…

Another fairly quiet week on the news front for me! I’ve been researching a lot, beginning to think of the essays that I will be handing in just after Christmas and what work needs doing before I crack on with the writing. However last night me and the boyfriend did end up going to an incredibly good night at one of our local bars – despite being billed to me by the boyfriend as ‘80’s goth’ when I got there I was pleasantly surprised to hear a lot of 80’s punk and alternative being played. It reminded me of being a teenager and listening to my dad’s CDs all over again. So yeah, if you are in Manchester and think that might be your jam – have a look at their webpage and head on over! You’ll see me there dancing like a loon in the corner 🙂

Becqui