You’re by Sylvia Plath

Clownlike, happiest on your hands, Feet to the stars, and moon-skulled, Gilled like a fish. A common-sense Thumbs-down on the dodo’s mode. Wrapped up in yourself like a spool, Trawling your dark, as owls do. Mute as a turnip from the Fourth Of July to All Fools’ Day, O high-riser, my little loaf. Vague as […]

Yaddo : The Grand Manor by Sylvia Plath

Woodsmoke and a distant loudspeaker Filter into this clear Air, and blur. The red tomato’s in, the green bean; The cook lugs a pumpkin From the vine For pies. The fir tree’s thick with grackles. Gold carp loom in the pools. A wasp crawls Over windfalls to sip cider-juice. Guests in the studios Muse, compose. […]

Winter Landscape, With Rooks by Sylvia Plath

Water in the millrace, through a sluice of stone, plunges headlong into that black pond where, absurd and out-of-season, a single swan floats chaste as snow, taunting the clouded mind which hungers to haul the white reflection down. The austere sun descends above the fen, an orange cyclops-eye, scorning to look longer on this landscape […]

Waking In Winter by Sylvia Plath

I can taste the tin of the sky — the real tin thing. Winter dawn is the color of metal, The trees stiffen into place like burnt nerves. All night I have dreamed of destruction, annihilations — An assembly-line of cut throats, and you and I Inching off in the gray Chevrolet, drinking the green […]

Two Views Of Withens by Sylvia Plath

Above whorled, spindling gorse, Sheepfoot-flattened grasses, Stone wall and ridgepole rise Prow-like through blurs Of fog in that hinterland few Hikers get to: Home of uncatchable Sage hen and spry rabbit, Where second wind, hip boot Help over hill And hill, and through peaty water. I found bare moor, A colorless weather, And the House […]

Two Sisters Of Persephone by Sylvia Plath

Two girls there are : within the house One sits; the other, without. Daylong a duet of shade and light Plays between these. In her dark wainscoted room The first works problems on A mathematical machine. Dry ticks mark time As she calculates each sum. At this barren enterprise Rat-shrewd go her squint eyes, Root-pale […]

Tinker Jack And The Tidy Wives by Sylvia Plath

‘Come lady, bring that pot Gone black of polish And whatever pan this mending master Should trim back to shape. I’ll correct each mar On silver dish, And shine that kettle of copper At your fireside Bright as blood. ‘Come lady, bring that face Fallen from luster. Time’s soot in bleared eye Can be made […]

The Trial Of A Man by Sylvia Plath

The ordinary milkman brought that dawn Of destiny, delivered to the door In square hermetic bottles, while the sun Ruled decree of doomsday on the floor. The morning paper clocked the headline hour You drank your coffee lke original sin, And at the jet-plane anger of God’s roar Got up to let the suave blue […]

The Swarm by Sylvia Plath

Somebody is shooting at something in our town – A dull pom, pom in the Sunday street. Jealousy can open the blood, It can make black roses. Who are the shooting at? It is you the knives are out for At Waterloo, Waterloo, Napoleon, The hump of Elba on your short back, And the snow, […]

The Sleepers by Sylvia Plath

No map traces the street Where those two sleepers are. We have lost track of it. They lie as if under water In a blue, unchanging light, The French window ajar Curtained with yellow lace. Through the narrow crack Odors of wet earth rise. The snail leaves a silver track; Dark thickets hedge the house. […]

The Shrike by Sylvia Plath

When night comes black Such royal dreams beckon this man As lift him apart From his earth-wife’s side To wing, sleep-feathered, The singular air, While she, envious bride, Cannot follow after, but lies With her blank brown eyes starved wide, Twisting curses in the tangled sheet With taloned fingers, Shaking in her skull’s cage The […]

The Rival by Sylvia Plath

If the moon smiled, she would resemble you. You leave the same impression Of something beautiful, but annihilating. Both of you are great light borrowers. Her O-mouth grieves at the world; yours is unaffected, And your first gift is making stone out of everything. I wake to a mausoleum; you are here, Ticking your fingers […]

The Ravaged Face by Sylvia Plath

Outlandish as a circus, the ravaged face Parades the marketplace, lurid and stricken By some unutterable chagrin, Maudlin from leaky eye to swollen nose. Two pinlegs stagger underneath the mass. Grievously purpled, mouth skewered on a groan, Past keeping to the house, past all discretion — Myself, myself! — obscene, lugubrious. Better the flat leer […]

The Rabbit Catcher by Sylvia Plath

It was a place of force- The wind gagging my mouth with my own blown hair, Tearing off my voice, and the sea Blinding me with its lights, the lives of the dead Unreeling in it, spreading like oil. I tasted the malignity of the gorse, Its black spikes, The extreme unction of its yellow […]

The Queen’s Complaint by Sylvia Plath

In ruck and quibble of courtfolk This giant hulked, I tell you, on her scene With hands like derricks, Looks fierce and black as rooks; Why, all the windows broke when he stalked in. Her dainty acres he ramped through And used her gentle doves with manners rude; I do not know What fury urged […]

The Princess And The Goblins by Sylvia Plath

(1) From fabrication springs the spiral stair up which the wakeful princess climbs to find the source of blanching light that conjured her to leave her bed of fever and ascend a visionary ladder toward the moon whose holy blue anoints her injured hand. With finger bandaged where the waspish pin flew from the intricate […]

The Night Dances by Sylvia Plath

A smile fell in the grass. Irretrievable! And how will your night dances Lose themselves. In mathematics? Such pure leaps and spirals — Surely they travel The world forever, I shall not entirely Sit emptied of beauties, the gift Of your small breath, the drenched grass Smell of your sleeps, lilies, lilies. Their flesh bears […]

The Moon And The Yew Tree by Sylvia Plath

“This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary. The trees of the mind are black. The light is blue. The grasses unload their griefs at my feet as if I were God, Prickling my ankles and murmuring of their humility. Fumy spiritious mists inhabit this place Separated from my house by a row […]

The Manor Garden by Sylvia Plath

The fountains are dry and the roses over. Incense of death. Your day approaches. The pears fatten like little buddhas. A blue mist is dragging the lake. You move through the era of fishes, The smug centuries of the pig- Head, toe and finger Come clear of the shadow. History Nourishes these broken flutings, These […]

The Jailer by Sylvia Plath

My night sweats grease his breakfast plate. The same placard of blue fog is wheeled into position With the same trees and headstones. Is that all he can come up with, The rattler of keys? I have been drugged and raped. Seven hours knocked out of my right mind Into a black sack Where I […]

The Hermit At Outermost House by Sylvia Plath

Sky and sea, horizon-hinged Tablets of blank blue, couldn’t, Clapped shut, flatten this man out. The great gods, Stone-Head, Claw-Foot Winded by much rock-bumping And claw-threat, realized that. For what, then, had they endured Dourly the long hots and colds, Those old despots, if he sat Laugh-shaken on his doorsill, Backbone unbendable as Timbers of […]

The Hanging Man by Sylvia Plath

By the roots of my hair some god got hold of me. I sizzled in his blue volts like a desert prophet. The nights snapped out of sight like a lizard’s eyelid : A world of bald white days in a shadeless socket. A vulturous boredom pinned me in this tree. If he were I, […]

The Great Carbuncle by Sylvia Plath

We came over the moor-top Through air streaming and green-lit, Stone farms foundering in it, Valleys of grass altering In a light neither dawn Nor nightfall, out hands, faces Lucent as percelain, the earth’s Claim and weight gone out of them. Some such transfiguring moved The eight pilgrims towards its source- Toward the great jewel: […]

The Goring by Sylvia Plath

Arena dust rusted by four bulls’ blood to a dull redness, The afternoon at a bad end under the crowd’s truculence, The ritual death each time botched among dropped capes, ill-judged stabs, The strongest will seemed a will towards ceremony. Obese, dark- Faced in his rich yellows, tassels, pompons, braid, the picador Rode out against […]

The Glutton by Sylvia Plath

He, hunger-strung, hard to slake, So fitted is for my black luck (With heat such as no man could have And yet keep kind) That all merit’s in being meat Seasoned how he’d most approve; Blood’s broth Filched by his hand, Choice wassail makes, cooked hot, Cupped quick to mouth; Though prime parts cram each […]

The Ghost’s Leavetaking by Sylvia Plath

Enter the chilly no-man’s land of about Five o’clock in the morning, the no-color void Where the waking head rubbishes out the draggled lot Of sulfurous dreamscapes and obscure lunar conundrums Which seemed, when dreamed, to mean so profoundly much, Gets ready to face the ready-made creation Of chairs and bureaus and sleep-twisted sheets. This […]

The Fearful by Sylvia Plath

This man makes a pseudonym And crawls behind it like a worm. This woman on the telephone Says she is a man, not a woman. The mask increases, eats the worm, Stripes for mouth and eyes and nose, The voice of the woman hollows– More and more like a dead one, Worms in the glottal […]

The Eye-Mote by Sylvia Plath

Blameless as daylight I stood looking At a field of horses, necks bent, manes blown, Tails streaming against the green Backdrop of sycamores. Sun was striking White chapel pinnacles over the roofs, Holding the horses, the clouds, the leaves Steadily rooted though they were all flowing Away to the left like reeds in a sea […]

The Everlasting Monday by Sylvia Plath

Thou shalt have an everlasting Monday and stand in the moon. The moon’s man stands in his shell, Bent under a bundle Of sticks. The light falls chalk and cold Upon our bedspread. His teeth are chattering among the leprous Peaks and craters of those extinct volcanoes. He also against black frost Would pick sticks, […]

The Disquieting Muses by Sylvia Plath

Mother, mother, what ill-bred aunt Or what disfigured and unsightly Cousin did you so unwisely keep Unasked to my christening, that she Sent these ladies in her stead With heads like darning-eggs to nod And nod and nod at foot and head And at the left side of my crib? Mother, who made to order […]

The Dispossessed by Sylvia Plath

The enormous mortgage must be paid somehow, so if you can dream up any saving plan tell me quick, darling, tell me now. An odd disease has hit our holy cow, no milk or honey fills the empty can; the enormous mortgage must be paid somehow. If you’ve a plot to halt the lethal flow […]

The Detective by Sylvia Plath

What was she doing when it blew in Over the seven hills, the red furrow, the blue mountain? Was she arranging cups? It is important. Was she at the window, listening? In that valley the train shrieks echo like souls on hooks. That is the valley of death, though the cows thrive. In her garden […]

The Death Of Myth-Making by Sylvia Plath

Two virtues ride, by stallion, by nag, To grind our knives and scissors: Lantern-jawed Reason, squat Common Sense, One courting doctors of all sorts, One, housewives and shopkeepers. The trees are lopped, the poodles trim, The laborer’s nails pared level Since those two civil servants set Their whetstone to the blunted edge And minced the […]

The Colossus by Sylvia Plath

I shall never get you put together entirely, Pieced, glued, and properly jointed. Mule-bray, pig-grunt and bawdy cackles Proceed from your great lips. It’s worse than a barnyard. Perhaps you consider yourself an oracle, Mouthpiece of the dead, or of some god or other. Thirty years now I have labored To dredge the silt from […]

The Burnt-Out Spa by Sylvia Plath

An old beast ended in this place: A monster of wood and rusty teeth. Fire smelted his eyes to lumps Of pale blue vitreous stuff, opaque As resin drops oozed from pine bark. The rafters and struts of his body wear Their char of karakul still. I can’t tell How long his carcass had foundered […]

The Bull Of Bendylaw by Sylvia Plath

The black bull bellowed before the sea. The sea, till that day orderly, Hove up against Bendylaw. The queen in the mulberry arbor stared Stiff as a queen on a playing card. The king fingered his beard. A blue sea, four horny bull-feet, A bull-snouted sea that wouldn’t stay put, Bucked at the garden gate. […]

The Beggars by Sylvia Plath

Nightfall, cold eye-neither disheartens These goatish tragedians who Hawk misfortune like figs and chickens And, plaintiff against each day, decry Nature’s partial, haphazard thumb. Under white wall and Moorish window Grief’s honest grimace, debased by time, Caricatures itself and thrives On the coins of pity. At random A beggar stops among eggs and loaves, Props […]

The Beekeeper’s Daughter by Sylvia Plath

A garden of mouthings. Purple, scarlet-speckled, black The great corollas dilate, peeling back their silks. Their musk encroaches, circle after circle, A well of scents almost too dense to breathe in. Hieratical in your frock coat, maestro of the bees, You move among the many-breasted hives, My heart under your foot, sister of a stone. […]

The Babysitters by Sylvia Plath

It is ten years, now, since we rowed to Children’s Island. The sun flamed straight down that noon on the water off Marblehead. That summer we wore black glasses to hide our eyes. We were always crying, in our spare rooms, little put-upon sisters, In the two, huge, white, handsome houses in Swampscott. When the […]

The Arrival Of The Bee Box by Sylvia Plath

I ordered this, clean wood box Square as a chair and almost too heavy to lift. I would say it was the coffin of a midget Or a square baby Were there not such a din in it. The box is locked, it is dangerous. I have to live with it overnight And I can’t […]