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Black Rook in Rainy Weather -- Sylvia Plath

Guest poem submitted by Amulya Gopalakrishnan:
(Poem #1048) Black Rook in Rainy Weather
 On the stiff twig up there
 Hunches a wet black rook
 Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain-
 I do not expect a miracle
 Or an accident

 To set the sight on fire
 In my eye, nor seek
 Any more in the desultory weather some design,
 But let spotted leaves fall as they fall
 Without ceremony, or portent.

 Although, I admit, I desire,
 Occasionally, some backtalk
 From the mute sky, I can't honestly complain:
 A certain minor light may still
 Lean incandescent

 Out of kitchen table or chair
 As if a celestial burning took
 Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then --
 Thus hallowing an interval
 Otherwise inconsequent

 By bestowing largesse, honor
 One might say love. At any rate, I now walk
 Wary (for it could happen
 Even in this dull, ruinous landscape); sceptical
 Yet politic, ignorant

 Of whatever angel any choose to flare
 Suddenly at my elbow. I only know that a rook
 Ordering its black feathers can so shine
 As to seize my senses, haul
 My eyelids up, and grant

 A brief respite from fear
 Of total neutrality. With luck,
 Trekking stubborn through this season
 Of fatigue, I shall
 Patch together a content

 Of sorts. Miracles occur.
 If you care to call those spasmodic
 Tricks of radiance
 Miracles. The wait's begun again,
 The long wait for the angel,

 For that rare, random descent.
-- Sylvia Plath
Truly miraculous.

A poem about revelation that breaks like light, and yet it is tense with
effort. It is not just simple awe at the shimmering that suns out from a
bird's wings; it is a labored, longed-for epiphany.

This poem enacts the conflict I find fascinating about Sylvia Plath -- she's
the same person who in the 'Soliloquy of a Solipsist' knows that the world
is what she gifts herself, she possesses the capacity to endow it with grace
or terror, even oblivion, with the blink of her eyelid. But simultaneously,
there's always the compulsion to be overwhelmed, to abandon herself to

Here too, she shies away from directly singing her vision. And yet, in spite
of (and perhaps because of) all the studied casualness ('spasmodic tricks of
radiance', 'one might say love') she manages to convey a sense of whimsical
magic. That is the astonishment of the poem. For me anyway.

I'm not equipped to analyze the structure or rhyme scheme, but this one
looks pretty corseted. Sylvia Plath, like other confessional poets is often
associated with a raw, visceral intensity -- which is odd considering so
much of her poetry has this kind of achieved poise and formal perfection.

(I'm skipping all the who-is-sylvia-what-is-she details, because it's been
done to death.)


[Minstrels Links]

Sylvia Plath:
Poem #53, Winter landscape, with rocks
Poem #129, Ariel
Poem #366, Child
Poem #404, Daddy
Poem #612, Love Letter
Poem #678, Mirror
Poem #881, The Moon and the Yew-tree
Poem #1048, Black Rook in Rainy Weather

Crows, rooks, blackbirds and ravens:
Poem #35, The Windhover  -- Gerard Manley Hopkins
Poem #85, The Raven  -- Edgar Allan Poe
Poem #137, The Sycophantic Fox and the Gullible Raven  -- Guy Wetmore Carryl

Poem #620, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird -- Wallace Stevens
Poem #621, Thirteen Blackbirds Looking at a Man -- R. S. Thomas
Poem #1048, Black Rook in Rainy Weather -- Sylvia Plath

28 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Howard Weinberg said...

Thanks for the Plath. You might ad to your list of rook and raven poems
something from Ted Hughes, Crow. Knowing of Plath and Rooks gives a new
light and darkness to that set of trickster fable-poems.

Howard Weinberg

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I think the greatness on the poem resides on its musicality and imagery, which are the most important facts on a poem if you follow some Greek principles. Well, it¡'s been really nice to find such a nice piece of work. if69

Anonymous said...

really dont understand this poem at all

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