mary oliver (2)

One Winter Day


Today the floes came. They made their stately approach with the incoming tide, in no hurry but as if destined. The tide fell and they were left like dropped clouds along the beach. Little boys clambered onto them, as though they were white ships that could carry them out to sea. The gulls and the eiders also seemed to feel they were here for entertainment, and chose to rest upon this or that shining pinnacle. Those still in water were no more than islands, but when left on shore they revealed themselves entirely, huge, and as gorgeously shaped as sculpture, both inspired and fortunate. A blue light glowed from their crevices. They might have been souls.

(Uit Long Life: Essays and Other Writings.)

mary oliver

The Moth, The Mountains, The Rivers


Who can guess the luna's sadness who lives so briefly? Who can guess the impatience of stone longing to be ground down, to be part again of something livelier? Who can imagine in what heaviness the rivers remember their original clarity?

Strange questions, yet I have spent worthwhile time with them. And I suggest them to you also, that your spirit be richer than it is, that you bow to the earth as you feel how it actually is, that we—so clever, and ambitious, and selfish, and unrestrained—are only one design of the moving, the vivacious many.

(Uit A Thousand Mornings.)

bitter fame

‘When she was not yet fifteen, the young Sylvia Plath astonished her high school English teacher, Wilbury Crockett, with a group of poems, some of which he read aloud to his tenth-grade class in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Sylvia recorded the incident in her diary: “Today I brought a group of original poems to Mr. Crockett . . . In class he read aloud four of them, commenting mainly favorably. He liked ‘I Thought That I Could Not Be Hurt’ above the rest and encouraged me greatly by remarking that I had a lyric gift beyond the ordinary.” Mr. Crockett  showed this favorite poem to a colleague, who remarked that it was “incredible that one so young could have experienced anything so devastating.” But the poem was occasioned by a very minor mishap: the poet's grandmother had accidentally smudged a pastel drawing of which Sylvia was particularly proud.

I thought that I could not be hurt;
I thought that I must surely be
impervious to suffering —
immune to mental pain
or agony.

My world was warm with April sun
my thoughts were spangled green and gold;
my soul filled up with joy, yet felt
the sharp, sweet pain that only joy
can hold . . .

Then, suddenly my world turned gray,
and darkness wiped aside my joy.
A dull and aching void was left
where careless hands had reached out to
destroy

my silver web of happiness . . .


Even then, writing was a need, living a complicated necessity that writing had to manage.’ (p. 1-2)

Uit Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath van Anne Stevenson.

the silent woman (2)

The Silent Woman, pagina 65:

‘Steiner's ambivalence, his “yes, but” verdict on “Daddy” is a characteristic response to Plath's work and to her persona. We praise her (those of us who do not condemn or dismiss her), but then we draw back. We retract some of our praise. Like Steiner, we're not sure where we stand with her. “Why doesn't she say something?” Olwyn asked. Like the life, the work is full of threatening silences. It is beautiful and severe and very cold. It is surrealistic, with surrealism's menace and refusal to explain itself. We stand before the Ariel poems as Olwyn stood before the stone-faced Sylvia. We feel humbled and rebuked, as if we were the “little, stumpy people” Plath saw in the hospital, or the herbivores she writes of in her poem “Mystic”, “whose hopes are so low they are comfortable.” To speak of Plath's overdrawing her right to our sympathy isn't accurate. Plath never asks for our sympathy; she would not stoop to it. The voice of the “true self” is notable for its high notes of disdain—and its profound melancholy. The “tortured and massacred” are never far from Plath's thoughts. (She is reported to have said to the Scottish poet George MacBeth, “I see you have a concentration camp in your mind, too.”) To say that Plath did not earn her right to invoke the names of Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen [in haar gedicht “Daddy”] is off the mark. It is we who stand accused, who fall short, who have not accepted the wager of imagining the unimaginable, of cracking Plath's code of atrocity.

(Schuingedrukte zinnen zijn door mij gecursiveerd.)

//

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