Birthdays and Bunnies

Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes are confessional poems that show retrospection on his relationship with his wife, Sylvia Plath. I believe these poems were Hughes finding true  retrospection of his life with Plath. He speaks of many instances in their lives and seems to view them and try to sort out his emotions about his wife and their time together.

In “The Rabbit Catcher” by Hughes he speaks of an instance where Plath reacted very dramatically towards a man setting snares to catch rabbits. This poem is just one of many moments in “Birthday Letters” where Hughes looks back and wonders what a moment in their life together really meant. The last stanza of “The Rabbit Catcher” is Hughes trying to understand Plath’s actions. 

“In those snares
You’d caught something.
Had you caught something in me,
Nocturnal and unknown to me? Or was it
Your doomed self, your tortured, crying,
Suffocating self? Whichever,
Those terrible, hypersensitive
Fingers of your verse closed round it and
Felt it alive. The poems, like smoking entrails,
Came soft into your hands.”

Here Hughes is pondering if Plath sees the rabbits in the snares as symbol for herself being trapped in her own existence. Additionally, int he last line it would seem that Plath could be seen as the rabbit catcher; the rabbits are the poems catching them and using them to sustain herself in her own entrapment. Plath is both trapped and the trapper.

Eating Crow

“Eating crow” is an idiom in the United States, particularly in the south. It is an idiom used for humiliation or admitting wrongness, someone would say “I’m eating crow” if they were proven wrong or apologizing for doing something wrong. Hughes in his “Crow” poems is doing just that, “eating crow.” I believe that Hughes was writing of the crow as this mythological figure to evade his feelings of wrongness after his wife’s suicide. He writes of a figure with almost endless power and possibility, but the crow figure is very arrogant in his actions; I believe that Hughes was arrogant in his marriage, ignorant to his wife’s problems and too self-involved.

“Crow’s Fall” shows almost pure arrogance. Crow finds the sun to bright and attacks it only to be charred black. Additionally, once he has obviously failed and lost his still proclaims “Where white is black and black is white, I won.” This is a statement of pure arrogance from crow. I believe this  is a very dramatic and exaggerated poem where Hughes was thinking of, and dealing with, the past of his own arrogance. His arrogance in taking his wife for granted. He sees the error of his ways now in retrospection and grief and is “eating crow.”

Pondering Lady Lazarus

In “Lady Lazarus”, one of Plath’s most famous poems from Ariel, has many images that indicate suicide and death, but these symbols can be viewed as symbols of reviving oneself. As Plath describes she has died every 10 years and then comes back to life, such as the biblical story of Lazarus. I believe these images are describing Plath’s wanting to leave behind the living world, but she pulls herself back from the brink every time, like a child playing near the edge of a cliff looking over, dangling their feet, and leaning over almost falling off yet they retreat before it goes to far. Though, Plath says she has done it before and the second time meant it to be permanent. Could this mean that Plath committed suicidal acts and survived around 20 years old? Or, does it mean she killed her old self to create a new person, but the true self, true Sylvia Plath always resurfaces and that no matter what role she tries to place herself in and acclimate too she cannot deny who she truly is. Though at the end, Plath seems to be a forced to be reckoned with as she emerges from ashes like a phoenix, could this rebirth as it relates to the doctor and others be a rebirth from her electroshock therapy? Though,  from this charge she is revived with more conviction than ever.

The Bell Jar and Electroshock Therapy

In “The Bell Jar” one thing that stuck out to me and caused interest was esters psychiatric treatment. How the doctors were insensitive and treated her without any interest in her personal condition. This is odd to me because the entire point of being a psychologist or psychiatrist should be to help people through their illnesses and problems. Additionally, the idea of electroshock therapy struck home a little, as its way of causing changes in a person is through causing full convulsive seizures in the individual. As a person who is epileptic the thought of this is revolting, believe me seizures aren’t something I would wish on anyone and the thought of causing someone to have one purposely is ridiculous. Though in extreme cases this therapy works I believe it should not be a viable option, and is archaic. Ester after experiencing this therapy says she no longer thinks about knives but this could indicate her mind is no longer as sharp as it once was, maybe she feels her intelligence has been muffled ; maybe this is the feeling that Plath had felt after the therapy?

Metaphors

Sylvia Plath’s poem “Metaphors” is full of great metaphors for pregnancy. Plath uses nine syllables in each line, and the poem consists of nine lines, so the poem itself as well as the content of each line is a metaphor for pregnancy. Though, there is one metaphor I could not understand. In the fourth line Plath writes ” O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!”  This metaphor is one that I can’t make heads or tails of. The “fine timbers” I believe are a metaphor for legs, but the meaning of “red fruit” and “Ivory” evade me; but Plath’s metaphors and meanings are always complex perhaps this one is beyond my current understanding.

Reaction to Colossus by Sylvia Plath

When reading “Colossus” I began to envision a monstrous marble statue, somewhat cracked and broken. I thought this must represent the greats of poetry and the construct they had built through their work, the colossus of poetry. Plath sees this as something that needs repair and something she can learn from.

“In their old anarchy to the horizon-line.
It would take more than a lightning-stroke
To create such a ruin.
Nights, I squat in the cornucopia
Of your left ear, out of the wind, ”

This stanza, I believe, symbolizes that the construct of great poets is in ruins but Plath is still trying to hear the muses all the greats once heard by sitting in the ear of the colossus. Additionally,I believe the lines

” To mend the immense skull-plates and clear
The bald, white tumuli of your eyes.”

is a image of fixing the minds and eyes of the poets that came before her, mending their vision. Tumuli defined is a term for burial mounds. These burial mounds can be seen as the graces of all of deceased great poets and by mending their eyes Plath is trying to find their vision and see what they viewed.

Colossus in my mind is a poem about finding the muses and vision of they great poets by rebuilding their statuesque figures they once were.

In Response to “Wodwo” by Ted Hughes

“Wodwo” struck me with a very interesting question in the first line. “What am I?”; this line is striking because it is a very philosophical question, as well as, a simple one. Easily the question can be answered; I am a human being, homo sapiens. Though, this line raises many other questions. Questions of integrity, personality, and existence. I found myself thinking ” Am I just an animal; and if a human isn’t an animal what does that make me? Am I a good person? Is my personality formed in a way where I am well rounded?” These questions while hard, or even impossible, to answer in a sense that can provide one with true insight into oneself and into the metaphysical. Hughes leaves these questions wide open and never seems to come close to an answer himself as he poses more questions, seemingly in his own existential crisis of being. Throughout “Wodwo” the questions begin to pile up as the initial question is further expanded into other facets of thought by Hughes, as he seems to be looking at a scene in nature. The questions are never answered, but how can they be; these are questions that all minds ponder in some level of thinking, though no answer can ever be a proven truly correct. Hughes just begins to come back out of his mind and begins peering at the river once more rather than pondering these questions any further , at least for the moment,

“roots roots roots and here’s the water
again very queer but I’ll go on looking” .

Pondering “The Thought-Fox” by Ted Hughes

As far as I have read into the works of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes “The Thought-Fox” is my favorite work read to date. This poem launched me into thought that the fox was representative of an idea. At first we see its nose touch the twig and leaf and slowly it reveals itself more and more until we finally can smell its “Hot stink.” in this way it is a metaphor of an idea first as a writer we gain the spark of inspiration, the beginning of an idea, and slowly the idea builds and becomes more complex until it is fully constructed; And in a sense fully revealed and we can smell its stink. The fox as a metaphor for idea is fully realized by the first and last stanza; as the page is blank in the first stanza before the fox is viewed but after the fox is viewed and comes to where we smell it and it jumps into “the dark hole of the head” and the page is printed and finished. This can also be reflected in Hughes’ title for this piece “The Thought-Fox”; The fox is the thought.