I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

25 May 2013

Wanting to Comfort Sylvia


 When the soles of my feet grow cold,
The blue eye of my turquoise will comfort me.
Let me have my copper cooking pots, let my rouge pots
Bloom about me like night flowers, with a good smell.

— Sylvia Plath (from Last Words)


You wrote of a woman who was not you,
from a time far past, when perhaps life and death
seemed simpler. I see her — a small woman,
contained, almost cosy.
Yet she was afraid, this ancient young woman
(for I do not believe she had grown old).
Walking through your life, did you feel like her,
afraid and needing comfort? You courted death.
Did you think — you who appeared so bold —
‘When the soles of my feet grow cold’?

And if so, how cold?
You aimed for the sun:
yourself your burning arrow,
flying into the eye of morning
fast and straight. That’s how you told it,
striking your target and blazing, fierce and free.
I wonder, though, about the other —
the you who bore children, fed them …
ordinary enough to be able to see:
‘The blue eye of my turquoise will comfort me’.

Copper cooking pots; we know them today
in our own time and culture.
These are the things that connect women
across places and times, races, religions —
these familiar things, our belongings
which have us belong, planted in our garden plots
and knowing the right way to grow.
Indeed it’s the small things that comfort us:
‘Let me have my copper cooking pots, let my rouge pots…’

We don’t have rouge pots as such any more,
we Western women, but we still have
colours and textures we smooth on our faces;
we have our silks and laces, our jewels and robes.
You knew her, I know, this dead woman
from long ago. You make me know her as well.
That was your genius, to make us know and feel and see
whatever you wrote. So I must believe that you too
wanted those homely comforts, penning your own call:
‘Bloom about me like night flowers, with a good smell.’

For the dVerse Form For All prompt: Paying Tribute ....the Glosa

I was too late to link to Form For All, so I'll link to the next Open Link Night. If you find this earlier, no need to come back from OLN.

A Glosa is a tribute poem to another poet, weaving one of their quatrains into one's own verse, as above, and trying to write in something of their style. It was only when I was embroiled that I realised — if one is going to attempt this with a great poet, one had better be a great poet oneself! I'm not; she is. Nevertheless, it was such hard work that I am not going to just hide it away now. :)


Click on the link on 'Last Words', above, to see the Plath poem in full.

30 comments:

  1. oh, this is beautiful. the delicacy, of your words... the colors, the textures... loved the 'ancient young woman' - great work on the prompt!

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    1. Thank you for finding this, and for the high praise!

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  2. this is a lovely tribute to a wonderful poet.. she really suffered a lot i think and so sad about her leaving way too soon.. i just love how the cooking pots and rouge pots intermingle with deep thoughts about her personality... and you should def. link it to oln rosemary

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  3. the burning arrow flying straight and fast...i think that is an apt metaphor for her life....that burned out so fast...and i think there are things that connect women across the ages...and people in general...we have similar longings and...very nice glosa rosemary...

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    1. Thank you, Brian.

      The arrow etc. is an allusion to the ending of her poem Ariel:

      And I
      Am the arrow,

      The dew that flies
      Suicidal, at one with the drive
      Into the red

      Eye, the cauldron of morning.

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    2. nice...will have to revisit that one...know i have read it once...

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  4. Oh! You had me from the title - that's an emotion that's come over us all who love the work of Sylvia Plath, that feeling of wanting to be there when she drove home that final night, of somehow being there for her when others were not able to. So it's with a sense of heightened expectation that I approached your cabeza, a wonderful quotation from a slice in Plath's life that speaks of good things, favourite things, comfortable things. And ah, then to speak to her in your glosa - directly to her, the 'you' of the poem - such a wonderful device to pull the reader and Sylvia both into the story. The glosa flows like a wonderful conversation, and in the end the comfort that you give - like love - is the comfort you receive. Beautifully, wonderfully done.

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    1. Gee Sam, I'm overwhelmed. Thank you!

      Yes, imagine what she might have done had she lived, considering that she wrote such wonderful stuff before she was even 31. And never to know how much it has been appreciated since.... Ah well.

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    2. I think the best poems come when you can immerse yourself totally in the persona of the narrator of the poem, experiencing what they experience, feeling what they feel - and this is what you were able to achieve here.

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  5. What a wonderful tribute and address to Sylvia Plath. I love her lines that you chose and the gentle way you expressed your understanding of the (young....yes) woman she wrote about and the solace you gave to Plath here. I am left with three words that I never would have thought in relation to Sylvia Plath: All Is Well.

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    1. Oh, that's so kind of you to say. Glad to have comforted you!

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  6. This was a great Glosa, a wonderful tribute..
    and I love

    Yet she was afraid, this ancient young woman
    (for I do not believe she had grown old).

    That stuck with me.
    Thank you -- Björn

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    1. Interesting, Bjorn — that's the only place where I actually focus on the person who was the subject of Plath's poem.

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  7. Beautiful work, I was swept along with your words ~

    My favorite part is the third stanza ~ And lovely choice of poet too, she is one terrific writer ~

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  8. This is exceptional, Rosemary. I did not attempt the glosa form (sigh), but recognize a good one when I see it. Your addressing of Sylvia Plath was powerful & really I felt a kind of intimacy between you and Plath & know that (if she could read them) she would be nodding as she read your words. I do think sometimes, in her depression, she wrote of a woman who was not her.......but then again....it was.

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    1. Thank you, Mary. I really did find it an unusually difficult form, but am impressed that everyone who tried wrote them so very well. And now that I have done one, I have a hankering to do more. :)

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  9. Incredible write. I'm a big Plath fan and I love love love how you portray her

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  10. Oh, Rosemary, I'm so glad you brought your Glosa to OLN--Plath is a poet whose work and life captivates my attention and you've really captured a bit of both in this well-written piece. Thank you so much. And what a great idea to spend some time on revision. It's so hard to balance both aspects of writing poetry. The creative and the revision--or, as I see it--the play and the work.

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  11. A fitting tribute to a wonderful poet. I really enjoyed how you played with the contrast and the ancient woman that seems to haunt her poetry.

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  12. I am so glad that I came here. The cabeza resonates in your glosa with the same flame and passion. A perfect ode that speaks as a tribute and the spirit of the poet's pen.

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  13. This poem, and especiall that second stanza, resonates with the same fierce power Plath displayed. Very well done!

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  14. How nice finding a glosa again here. Rosemary! A glosa is a great form to accord tribute to someone we adore! The abundance of lines available in each stanza allows a lot of space and leeway. You've done that beautifully, Ma'am! You made Sylvia Plath proud!

    Hank

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  15. i trust you will find and know what she did not.

    Your piece, an eloquent write. She will be pleased to know she is in your thoughts and you inspired in her absence.

    Cheers!

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  16. I really enjoyed this glosa, Rosemary... especially the final stanza... a wonderful tribute.

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  17. A lovely tribute and beautiful poem. A clear message and steady flow, telling a story worth reading.

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  18. I very much appreciate what all of you have said. Thank you.

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  19. How extraordinary, the thoughts in Sylvia's poem, the weaving you constructed, bridging time and space and lives. You made us see many women here, Sulvia, the old you, the new you and the poet you, the one who reflects on her work, her accomplishments with a hard look.
    I wonder, why are we women so hard on ourselves?

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    1. In answer to that questionI think of Erica Jong's heroine in 'Fear of Flying' whose psychiatrist points out that her talent is poetry; she is not required t be a brilliant housekeeper as well - foreshadowing the gurus who tell us now that it's a mistake to try and be Superwoman. Which is all very well, but some of us don't have much choice in trying to juggle parenting, finances and the demands of our art, as Sylvia had to. Perhaps the ancient Babylonian woman she writes of in 'Last Words' had a simpler life, as I imagine in my glosa - but I dont really know that.

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