Who is on the plum tree?
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.
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