198th Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 198th Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s books suggested. Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Also, sign up for the 2013 Dive Into Poetry Challenge because its simple; you only need to read 1 book of poetry. Please sign up to be a stop on the 2013 National Poetry Month Blog Tour and visit the stops on the 2012 National Poetry Month Blog Tour.

Today’s poem is from Sylvia Plath’s Crossing the Water:

Blackberrying (page 24-5)

Nobody in the lane, and nothing, nothing but blackberries,   
Blackberries on either side, though on the right mainly,
A blackberry alley, going down in hooks, and a sea
Somewhere at the end of it, heaving. Blackberries
Big as the ball of my thumb, and dumb as eyes
Ebon in the hedges, fat
With blue-red juices. These they squander on my fingers.
I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; they must love me.
They accommodate themselves to my milkbottle, flattening their sides.

Overhead go the choughs in black, cacophonous flocks—
Bits of burnt paper wheeling in a blown sky.
Theirs is the only voice, protesting, protesting.
I do not think the sea will appear at all.
The high, green meadows are glowing, as if lit from within.
I come to one bush of berries so ripe it is a bush of flies,
Hanging their bluegreen bellies and their wing panes in a Chinese screen.
The honey-feast of the berries has stunned them; they believe in heaven.   
One more hook, and the berries and bushes end.

The only thing to come now is the sea.
From between two hills a sudden wind funnels at me,   
Slapping its phantom laundry in my face.
These hills are too green and sweet to have tasted salt.
I follow the sheep path between them. A last hook brings me   
To the hills’ northern face, and the face is orange rock   
That looks out on nothing, nothing but a great space   
Of white and pewter lights, and a din like silversmiths   
Beating and beating at an intractable metal.

What do you think?

Click on the image for today’s National Poetry Month tour post!

Crossing the Water by Sylvia Plath

Have you had enough Sylvia Plath this week? I hope note, because I’ve got another review for you today.

Crossing the Water by Sylvia Plath is the collection between The Colossus and before the publication of Ariel (my review), and it continues to push the envelop between dark and light.  Plath has come to represent the dichotomy of dark and light in all of us, with our deep passions and desires that lie in tension with our duty to family and society.  In this collection, the water becomes a metaphor for the surface veneer that many of us carry, but Plath examines how easily this surface can be shaken and disturbed.

In “Finisterre,” “Now it is only gloomy, a dump of rocks–/Leftover soldiers from old, messy wars./The sea cannons into their ear, but they don’t budge./Other rocks hide their grudges under the water.//”  (page 15)  Plath examines the aging process and the grudges carried from the past into the present and how that sullies the outside like the weathering of a rock face.  The poem further flourishes into a series of worshiping people looking to that which is beyond themselves, particularly the larger “Lady of the Shipwrecked” who admires the sea as the man worships her and the peasant worships the sailor.

Crossing the Water (page 14)

Black lake, black boat, two black, cut-paper people.
Where do the black trees go that drink here?
Their shadows must cover Canada.

A little light is filtering from the water flowers.
Their leaves do not wish us to hurry:
They are round and flat and full of dark advice.

Cold worlds shake from the oar.
The spirit of blackness is in us, it is in the fishes.
A snag is lifting a valedictory, pale hand;

Stars open among the lilies.
Are you not blinded by such expressionless sirens?
This is the silence of astounded souls.

Many of these poems are about the art of reflection or reflecting the outside world, becoming or acting as a mirror without judgment. Speaking in “Widow,” the narrator runs through the typical emotions of loneliness without the spouse, but later in the poem, Plath explores the weight of the lost spouse’s memory and how it still lies heavily on her life even as the man has died.  It is this shadow from which she cannot escape even in widowhood.  However, there also is a certain distance to these poems, like Plath is holding readers at arm’s length — each poem depicts a sense of control.  But her observances of mindless working zombies on city streets or the attempt to recapture youth through cosmetic surgery are spot on and raise an awareness of the foolhardy nature of hubris.

There is a disquietude in these poems, but yet a blissful communion with nature. It is as if she is recognizing the connection we have with nature, but at the same time calling attention to what separates us from it, like in “I Am Vertical.”  Crossing the Water by Sylvia Plath may be the smallest of her collections, but is no less powerful.  It looks at life through the lens of a woman at odds with herself and society.

This is my 11th book for the Dive Into Poetry Challenge 2013.




Click the image below for today’s National Poetry Month tour stop!