[Image description: A young Sylvia Plath holds a dandelion in a deck chair, smiling, in profile. She wears a white top with a red flower tucked into its neckline.] Dear Plathians, Every night, now, I wake at 4 am to nurse the baby. I watch the sky turn blue. I write notes for the book on one hand, hold the baby’s head with the next. At 8, as the big kids ride away from me on the bus, I buckle the baby into his carseat and take him to daycare, and then, for four hours, I write the book.
I’m really looking forward to your book, I am obsessed with Plath and tired of reading forwards and intros that apologize for You Know Who. I’ve been so disappointed I’ve basically decided at this point I’m only going to read her own letters and journals so she can speak for herself, but I will def be buying your book as well.
Anyway the reason I’m leaving this comment actually is because you mentioned analyzing her last poems, what they really mean, etc, and I recently discovered something I haven’t seen anyone else mention about Plath’s famous last poem “The Edge” which people interpret as a kind of suicide note. But I think the poem might be based off a statue, the one in Yaddo gardens in a fountain. If you Google Yaddo gardens it comes up: a woman with what look like two children at her feet. Plath had written another poem possibly about Yaddo, “The Manor Garden,” which also ambiguously employs the verb “drag,” in Manor Garden: “A blue mist is dragging the lake.” And in The Edge: “Her blacks crackle and drag.”
When I first read The Edge, my instinct was that Plath was writing about a statue, then as I read various online (and contradicting) interpretations of the Edge I lost that instinctual interpretation, but a haunting little voice in my head told me to look up Yaddo gardens and that’s what I found. I believe the poem is a meditation on the Greek-inspired statue, as if it were based on a real ancient Greek woman and her two children, all their lives long since folded into each other. That’s why we have a garden in the poem, the Yaddo rose garden surrounding the statue. But we also have this “illusion of a Greek necessity” in her toga, because it’s not really an Ancient Greek statue, it’s just a fake, which sort of de-romantisizes the narrator’s fantasizing about the death of this woman “smiling with accomplishment.”
As a poet I’ve definitely seen little things here and there in life that stuck with me, that I couldn’t get out of my head for years and wanted to write about. I think for Sylvia that statue at Yaddo was one of those things and she was saving it for the right poem. I could be very wrong obviously though. Anyway, good luck with your book!
Thank you, Emily.
i am really enjoying these. Thanks for writing them.
This wonderful and truly spooky reflection is such a beautiful evocation. I could have gone on reading it for pages and pages if it had continued. I read the Jaqueline Rose book and I think those of us to really find Plath gets us, and get her words under our skin, encounter her likewise, in varying degrees. And for me, more than any one else who writes about Sylvia Plath, you resurrect her electrifying voice in my heart. That can only be more about her life than about her death. Thank you so much.