Niamh Clune

Environment, poetry, comment, children's books,

Wednesday Poetry Corner With Milla Liljestrand

I have great pleasure in introducing you to another new face to Poetry Corner: Milla Liljestrand. Milla is a fine and delicate poet of great sensitivity. Thank you, Milla for being on the plum tree with us today and sharing your thoughts about Sylvia Plath.

Beautiful and detailed wounds…

By Milla Liljestrand U1889231

Reading and writing poetry is another dimension, a state of mind where I can explore my soul without distractions or boundaries. Writing is a more personal act than reading, but sometimes I get a clear catch of other poet’s souls and the experience becomes very intense and inspiring. Sylvia Plath was introduced to me by one of my fellow poets, and at first, her poems were alien, but as I kept reading, her words opened me and tied me into a moment, and I heard her voice. It was a window opening because her honesty and passion are mesmerizing and powerful. She handed me the new paths and ways to see the ordinary. She was fearless and daring with everything around her. Nothing was too familiar to write into a poem, but she made them to represent her deeper thoughts and feelings. I feel that she was faithful to her own way of expressing herself as well as what she wanted to say. Her poems are tapestries of intimate feelings and encounters. Some of them are beautiful and detailed wounds of her life. The print of her poetry is strong and passes all my inhibitions and masks.

Her work is part of the confessional genre which she advanced. Death, redemption, resurrection, love, rage and despair are themes of her poems. Her life was colored with her father’s death when she was 8 years old and the depression she suffered most of her adult life. Also, her suicide attempt and broken marriage with fellow poet Ted Hughes are seen through her work.

She was born 1932 in Boston United States. Her father was a professor and her mother was a master student at Boston University. She was a persistent writer from when she was a little girl. She kept a journal from the age 11 and published regional newspapers and magazines. Her first national publication was 1950 after graduating from high school. After that, she studied at Smith Collage being a exceptional student and entered Cambridge on a Fulbright Scholarship. There, she met Ted Hughes, and they were married in June 1956. They had two children, but in 1962, their marriage was over. She fell into deep depression and wrote most of the poems for her book Ariel. On February 1963 at age 30, Sylvia ended her life.

Her most known works are two poetry collections, The Colossus and Other Poems and Ariel. Poetry book The Collected Poems was published after her death and she won the Pulizer Prize in 1982 for it. She also published a novel The Bell Jar shortly before her death. Sylvia Plath’s legacy is alive, but controversy about it continues as well as about her life and death.

There were many poems I could have chosen from Sylvia Plath  like ”Tale of a Tub”, ”The Arrival of the Bee Box” or her most famous poems ”Lady Lazrus” and Daddy” but the one I chose attached itself on my soul like a moth. It’s atmosphere oscillates endlessly.

The Moon and the Yew Tree by Sylvia Plath

This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary.

The trees of the mind are black. The light is blue.

The grasses unload their griefs on my feet as if I were


Prickling my ankles and murmuring of their humility.

Fumey, spiritous mists inhabit this place

Separated from my house by a row of headstones.

I simply cannot see where there is to get to.

The moon is no door. It is a face in its own right,

White as a knuckle and terribly upset.

It drags the sea after it like a dark crime; it is quiet

With the O-gape of complete despair. I live here.

Twice on Sunday, the bells startle the sky-

Eight great tongues affirming the Resurrection.

At the end, they soberly bong out their names.

The yew tree points up. It has a Gothic shape.

The eyes lift after it and find the moon

The moon is my mother. She is not sweet like Mary.

Her blue garments unloose small bats and owls.

How I would like to believe in tenderness-

The face of the effigy, gentled by candles,

Bending, on me in particular, its mild eyes.

I have fallen a long way. Clouds are flowering

Blue and mystical over the face of the stars.

Inside the church, the saints will be all blue,

Floating on their delicate feet over the cold pews,

Their hands and faces stiff with holiness.

The moon sees nothing of this. She is bald and wild.

And the message of the yew tree is blackness- blackness

and silence.

About Dr Niamh

When I was a little girl (a very, very long time ago), I used to love learning new, really big words like ‘discombobulate’. As I grew, my love of words grew too, until I loved them so much, I could not stop writing them down. One day, as I was scribbling a particular word, a very peculiar thing happened. The word shouted at me, “Stop! Don’t put me there!” As you can imagine, I was shocked and nearly fell off my chair. When I recovered somewhat, I said to the word, “Could you stop shouting, please? I am not used to it.” Can you guess what happened next? No! I thought not. The word said, “I might be small, but I will misbehave if you do not use me properly. I will not tell the story you would like me to tell. I will say something entirely different!” I dropped my pen. I hoped that by dropping my pen, the word would stop talking. Alas! It did not. It carried on chitterchobbling, even after the ink had dried. I was in a pickle. I could not allow my words to run away with my story, now could I? I don’t know about you, but when this sort of thing happens, there is only one thing left to do if you prefer not to spend your time arguing. “Very well,” said I. “I will do as you ask if you will just be quiet and allow me to concentrate.” Since that day, I have been paying special attention to every word I invite into my stories. After all, a story should say exactly what it means to say and not be led astray. With love from Dr. Niamh, Ph.D in Learning Through The Imagination and Founder of Dr Niamh Children's Books.

7 comments on “Wednesday Poetry Corner With Milla Liljestrand

  1. the secret keeper
    September 4, 2013

    A wonderful choice in poets, Slyvia Plath. A kindred spirit I’ve been hanging out with since before college. The Bell Jar opened my door to her and her poems walked right in after them. I was hooked. Niamh, choosing Milla Liljestrand was brilliant. The way in which you approach telling us about your experiences of writing poetry and of Sylvia Plath is very moving. It was so unfortunate she didn’t really get to experience her dreams coming true while she was alive, the accolades, the notice and the admiration. It is such a common bond between artists to not receive the attention and recognition they so desire until they are dead. When I saw the posting you were going to be featuring Sylvia Plath, I was excited. She is a poet whose life and work should never be forgotten. Her use of words to create such an unusual sense of imagery through metaphor. It is important to keep her alive and all who contribute so much to the art world. They, through their work, well deserve immortality. Thank you Milla Liljestrand and Niamh for this tribute and such a fine writer and poet to present the honour to Sylvia Plath to us. Thank you both, Jennifer


  2. Uncle Tree
    September 4, 2013

    Ah, yes! I love this mystical rendezvous, Milla!
    Choosing is never easy. Yew did well. 😉

    Nice to meet you! Peace and luvz, Keith


  3. Imen Benyoub
    September 4, 2013

    bravo Milla you chose well..Sylvia was and still is a unique woman..her words,her world of melancholy and creativity always inspire you too it took me time to get used to her poetry..than the words unfolded themselves to me slowly and i discovered the visions of a woman who left her marks on my soul..Sylvia..our fine poet is beautifully featured by our poet of the delighted to read and know about your reflections on poetry and writing..your presence is a rich plus to this already rich family of plum tree..well done..wonderful soul sharing..xx


  4. Fycsene Shields
    September 4, 2013

    I enjoyed every morsel of Milla’s eloquent description of Plath and her work. Thank you very much indeed for sharing this. Lovely


  5. Milla Liljestrand
    September 4, 2013

    Thank you each and every one for your wonderful comments and support! I am really happy to read that I am not the only one that Sylvia Plath and her poetry has touched. It was my great pleasure to write about her as her words are very close to my heart. ❤
    I want to also thank the Plum Tree for giving me this opportunity to share piece of my soul with you!


  6. thiskidreviewsbooks
    September 4, 2013

    Wow. What a great post (although the suicide attempt and such part is a bit scary to me – “ugh.”)! I can see why there is so much emotion in this poem.


  7. Jamie Dedes
    September 19, 2013

    A fine choice of poet and poem, Milla. In this one, the line “how I would like to believe in tenderness – ” has always reverberated poignantly in my mind. Isn’t that what we all want, hope for, and can’t always quite mananage.

    Thanks you, Milla, for a lovely post and to Niamh for hosting.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: