Morning Song by Sylvia Plath
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.
50 years ago today Sylvia Plath took her own life. She was one of the best writers of the 20th century with very popular poetry and one novel. Her novel, The Bell Jar, is one of my favourite things ever written. It’s hard to imagine that something written over half a century ago is still relevant and emotionally provoking as that novel is. This book shouldn’t be saved for University students it should be taught at GCSE level. This is a book that I think everyone should read.
Plath had a troubled life, with a failing marriage and a sense of abandonment with her father. He died very early in her life. The first thing that many people think about on the subject of Plath is her suicide. It shouldn’t be. What people should think about is her work. Her collections of poetry, her novel and her short stories. They should jump to the front of our minds.
Plath is one of the best writers of all time, with The Bell Jar needing little revision, and is the closest to perfect I’ve ever come across in a novel. She is also one of the most significant writers of the last century who has continued to influence writers 50 years after her life ended.
Sylvia Plath – 27/10/32 – 11/02/63