Be Kind

SYLVIA PLATH (1932-1963). American poet and novelist.

I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And what do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life.

And I am horribly limited.

~Sylvia Plath, from her journal


Countless reviews of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar have examined its autobiographical content and the foreshadowing of her suicide, so there’s no need to repeat all of that.  For one loved by so many (even today) she seemed desperately alone.  In many ways she felt closer to her books and writers of another age like Virginia Woolf and D.H. Lawrence than the human beings around her.  Ironically, she is known as one of the originators of confessional poetry and her writings still resonate with many who feel trapped inside of their own minds.

Rather than focus on the irredeemable past, our best service to Plath’s memory is to take the lessons presented and help those who are currently battling mental illness and depression. It’s easy to overlook people who suffer within their own minds. They are hiding from you on purpose.

God help us to be awake today and truly sensitive to those around us, to whom a word of kindness could mean quite literally, everything.

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Ephesians 4:32

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Dig Deeper – Sylvia Plath

In “Lady Lazarus” Sylvia Plath fuses the experience of her earlier attempt at suicide with a criticism of the public’s sensationalistic, dehumanized interest in the disclosures after the Nazi holocaust.


Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it--

A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot

A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.

Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?--

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.

Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me

And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.

This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.

What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see

Them unwrap me hand and foot--
The big strip tease.
Gentlemen, ladies

These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,

Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.

The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut

As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

Dying
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I’ve a call.

It’s easy enough to do it in a cell.
It’s easy enough to do it and stay put.
It’s the theatrical

Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:

‘A miracle!'
That knocks me out.
There is a charge

For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart--
It really goes.

And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood

Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.

I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby

That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

Ash, ash--
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there--

A cake of soap, 
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.

Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Beware
Beware.

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

23-29 October 1962

 

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