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Forum Home > Poetry > the poetry of Sylvia Plath

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

http://campus.poetryschool.com/love-suicide-sylvia-plath-ted-hughes


And here's an article from today's Gruniad:http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/oct/22/ted-hughes-unauthorised-life-bate-biography-alvarez-plath-liaison?CMP=fb_a-culture_b-gdnculture

September 18, 2015 at 4:09 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

Herewith is the Plath poem our next seminar will focus on. It'd be very helpful if everyone taking part could read the poem through a few times beforehand:

 


The Rabbit Catcher


It was a place of force—

The wind gagging my mouth with my own blown hair,

Tearing off my voice, and the sea

Blinding me with its lights, the lives of the dead

Unreeling in it, spreading like oil.



I tasted the malignity of the gorse,

Its black spikes,

The extreme unction of its yellow candle-flowers.

They had an efficiency, a great beauty,

And were extravagant, like torture.



There was only one place to get to.

Simmering, perfumed,

The paths narrowed into the hollow.

And the snares almost effaced themselves—

Zeros, shutting on nothing,



Set close, like birth pangs.

The absence of shrieks

Made a hole in the hot day, a vacancy.

The glassy light was a clear wall,

The thickets quiet.



I felt a still busyness, an intent.

I felt hands round a tea mug, dull, blunt,

Ringing the white china.

How they awaited him, those little deaths!

They waited like sweethearts. They excited him.

 


And we, too, had a relationship—

Tight wires between us,

Pegs too deep to uproot, and a mind like a ring

Sliding shut on some quick thing,

The constriction killing me also.


November 2, 2015 at 11:13 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

Plath reading the poem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMG9sAtZdpg

November 11, 2015 at 9:12 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Charlie Fraser
Member
Posts: 84

Hi everyone. Could everyone who is here say hello so everyone else has an idea of who is going to be taking part.

November 11, 2015 at 2:00 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Chloe Lambdon
Member
Posts: 10

Hello, I'm going to be taking part!

November 11, 2015 at 2:01 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

Hi, we're just waiting for Bethany, whose voice is lost somewhere temporarily on the website...Hold on in there....

November 11, 2015 at 2:07 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

This is a message from the ether: 'To begin, I'd like us to work together on a stanza-by-stanza analysis of Plath's imagery. I'm then hoping to discuss biographical readings, and the problems associated with these. We'll then think about a famous analysis of the poem, by Jacqueline Rose, and wrap up, if there's time, by looking at Ted Hughes's response to the poem in his 1998 collection Birthday Letters.'

November 11, 2015 at 2:08 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Dr. Bethany Layne
Member
Posts: 70

Sorry, all! I was posting in the wrong place. Welcome, Chloe. Is anyone else out there? 

November 11, 2015 at 2:08 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Charlie Fraser
Member
Posts: 84

Hi, I am here!

November 11, 2015 at 2:09 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

Me too.

November 11, 2015 at 2:09 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Dr. Bethany Layne
Member
Posts: 70

Hello, Charlie! Good to hear from you all. Right, let's jump straight in -- what do you find significant about the imagery Plath uses to describe the landscape in the first stanza?

November 11, 2015 at 2:10 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Charlie Fraser
Member
Posts: 84

In the first stanza I get a sense of a coastal image, a place of collision between the land and the sea. 

November 11, 2015 at 2:10 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Dr. Bethany Layne
Member
Posts: 70

Spot on, Charlie. Is there anything to be said about the verbs associated with that landscape?

November 11, 2015 at 2:11 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Charlie Fraser
Member
Posts: 84

It seems like an interrogation scene, the voice has been gagged and blinded like they are a prisoner in this environment

November 11, 2015 at 2:11 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

The landscape seems actively hostile to Plath.

November 11, 2015 at 2:11 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Dr. Bethany Layne
Member
Posts: 70

Absolutely. Gagging, blinding, tearing -- they're all very violent verbs, as though the landscape is attacking the speaker. Moving on to the second stanza, how is the gorse described?

November 11, 2015 at 2:13 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Charlie Fraser
Member
Posts: 84

And the use of the active form of the verbs, 'tearing', 'gagging' etc. creates a lot of motion. there is nothing still for the speaker to hold onto

November 11, 2015 at 2:13 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Chloe Lambdon
Member
Posts: 10

Plath doesn't appear to feel at ease in the presence of nature, she feels she is under threat as the wind is "gagging" her and the sea is "blinding" her, which are quite extreme and unpleasant sensations.

November 11, 2015 at 2:13 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 921

Beautiful but also instruments of torture.

November 11, 2015 at 2:14 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Charlie Fraser
Member
Posts: 84

The description of the gorse continues the violent imagery. 'Black spikes' transports the land into a prison cell, a place of punishment.

November 11, 2015 at 2:15 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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