Sunday, December 28, 2008

Thank You Liberality

by: Sylvia Plath

You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time--
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,
Ghastly statue with one gray toe
Big as a Frisco seal

And a head in the freakish Atlantic
Where it pours bean green over blue
In the waters off beautiful Nauset.
I used to pray to recover you.
Ach, du.

In the German tongue, in the Polish town
Scraped flat by the roller
Of wars, wars, wars.
But the name of the town is common.
My Polack friend

Says there are a dozen or two.
So I never could tell where you
Put your foot, your root,
I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.

It stuck in a barb wire snare.
Ich, ich, ich, ich,
I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you.
And the language obscene

An engine, an engine
Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.
I began to talk like a Jew.
I think I may well be a Jew.

The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna
Are not very pure or true.
With my gipsy ancestress and my weird luck
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
I may be a bit of a Jew.

I have always been scared of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
And your neat mustache
And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You--

Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that, no not
Any less the black man who

Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.

But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look

And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I'm finally through.
The black telephone's off at the root,
The voices just can't worm through.

If I've killed one man, I've killed two--
The vampire who said he was you
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.

There's a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through.

From "Ariel", 1966


Life As I Know It Now said...

I love ya honey. I mean that!!!

Utah Savage said...

I know you do, my soul's sister. I love you, too.

Comrade Kevin said...

I like this one, but Lady Lazarus is my favorite.

Utah Savage said...

I believe it's mine too Kevin, but this one does speak to me. And Lib knew it would, so she sent it to me. I have kept it just as she sent it, and waited for the moment it spoke to me again.

Stella by Starlight said...

Has anyone read Carmen Tafolla? She is a Tejano writer. Her book, Sonnets to Human Beings is wonderful.

How Shall I Tell You?

after listening to the world news, the U.S. attack,
on Libya, the Soviet accident at Chernobyl, the
firing in the Persian gulf, and wondering... if...

When no soul walks the softened green
and no foot beats the pulse on crumbling brown
and no one lives to sing to rain
or soak to sun the spirit of its golden gown
to weave the many colors of the after-arch
from sky to human skin to wooded wealth
in fiber fabric beads and tusks and seeds
all leading up in rows of beauty drumbeat to black
neck, like venison in stealth

When no one lulls the child to sleep
or takes the wrinkled story's hand
or listens to the news - a wired sound
of tribe on tribe - stet now - man on man
how shall I tell you that I love you then?
how shall I touch your fingers tip to tip
and say that we were blood and human voice and friend?

Statue of

Statue of
Teeming hordes of hungry
Always wanting just a
Time of rest not waiting
Under suffocated souls
Even scared to breathe too loud

Or ask
Freedom from the

MIGRA who will hunt them down
I completely undertand why "Daddy" resonates with you, Utah. It makes me sad: I wish you were unable to relate to this poem, dear.

We all have lyrical muses who touch our hearts, even if some don't know that they do.

Utah Savage said...

Stella, I'm posting this. Thank you for turning me on to her. I'd never heard of her. You are a peach!

Stella by Starlight said...

And you are utterly awesome, my friend. Tafolla evokes such power. I'm so glad you enjoy her.

Unknown said...

I read a lot of Sylvia Plath last winter when I (appropriately) read Wintering, a novel about the last winter of her life; semi-fictionalized and most excellent. I highly recommend it.

The book was controversial for Sylvia and Ted Hughes daughter Frida, who objected strenuously to its publishing.

I thought it was a good book and I'm still trying to figure out what could be so offensive about someone trying to tell Sylvia's story with the help of letters and archives.

I like the work of Plath but sometimes her poems made me feel unbearably that even sad I (at the time) couldn't always take it.

That gal Liberality; she's got that librarian's knack for all the cool reads! :-)

Utah Savage said...

My only problem with the publishing of a book about her life is who is the author and who is getting the money. If Ted is the author and the recipient of any moneys based on her life, I object. I feel Ted is in many ways responsible for her death. I suspect her daughter does too.

Madam Z said...

That was breathtaking! And throat-lumping. I've never read anything by Plath. Maybe I should.