04 October 2011

Tuesday poem: 'Lady Lazarus' by Sylvia Plath

(If you can't see the video embedded above, you can find it here on YouTube: http://youtu.be/esBLxyTFDxE

I love hearing recordings of Sylvia Plath reading her work. She has such a rich voice, and she brings out the rhythms and rhymes in her poems. I think the quality I like the most about her voice is that there's some kind of ironic edge to it - a wryness? Maybe it isn't an edge - perhaps it's a bubble of a laugh, just held in.

Anyway, 'Lady Lazarus' is one of the poems of Plath's that I especially loved when I studied her. I should read some more of her work again - I think I'd find I now connected with poems that I couldn't understand then.

More Tuesday Poems via the hub blog! http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/


Mary McCallum said...

Oh! that last line. But Helen, think of her writing a poem like this, the stuff in her that becomes those lines, the 'I' the 'I' the 'I' - the reality of the suicide - 'I make it hurt like hell' -- all so bloody depressing... so terribly sad. Almost unbearable to listen to.

Helen Rickerby said...

It's rather strange Mary, but I haven't found it sad before. I'm trying to figure out why ever not. I think there are a couple of reasons - one is that when I read her poems a lot I was around 20, and wasn't that afraid of death because I didn't understand it had nothing really to lose. And also because I saw them as kind of triumphant. She didn't know she was going to kill herself - though I guess it was an ever-present possibility. Although her poems are supposed to be the epitome of confessional, I've never quite read them that way. They are too artful and often surreal to be simply confessional, although obviously she is an integral part of her own raw material.

But I find herself, her story, kind of devastating. Such a loss! The film Sylvia has been maligned in some quarters, but it really spoke to me. I cried and cried and cried way past the kind of tears that are appropriate for cinema!