My first opportunity to know Sylvia Plath and to read her work was by way of her only novel: The Bell Jar.
Being a Psychology major then in Cebu in the ’90s, someone referred me to this particular work of hers. I was told that it would help me to get into the mind, the thoughts of someone who was said to suffer mental illness which was what the book was about. But then when I attended a writing workshop (my first one), one of the panelists there commented that my poetry was dark and reminded him of Sylvia Plath. His views sparked my interest to look up her poetry.
Sylvia Plath lived a tragic life but what beautiful poetry she wrote! I would like to share here one of her “more positive” poems which dealt with the birth of her child.
Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.
Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness
Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.
I’m no more your mother
Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind’s hand.
All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear.
One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral
In my Victorian nightgown.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat’s. The window square
Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try
Your handful of notes;
The clear vowels rise like balloons.