A Dark-Scape of Living Poesy

Written for Has It Begun to Sprout? – Dark Poetry for the Cruellest Month, 2016 (Day 1 of 13), and for Still Getting Out of the Starting Gate at the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads

My friend Rommy and I are doing a 30 Days of Micro-Poetry in April challenge on our Facebook pages and Instagram. Our poem bits are inspired by song titles and book quotations, respectively, both offered by awesome readers and friends. Today’s quote, provided by Elizabeth Elaine, is the epitaph on Sylvia Plath’s grave: “Even amidst fierce flames the golden lotus can be planted.” I wrote a haiku for that challenge (I shall link it after I publish it in a few hours). After I was done writing the haiku, I couldn’t get Sylvia Plath out of my mind… hence the poem that follows.

“A Dark-Scape of Living Poesy”

She was fiery autumn Jazz
in the ears of eyes deafened
to all things but pale winter.

They felt her muse dance
in bone, in gut, in orthodoxy’s
belief-made backbone…
They thought her weird
was spelled by mad words.

In her fall, she birthed
a dark-scape of living poesy,
filled it with half-unreal unicorns
that the world read as horn-
less suicidal horses.

After her flesh suckled the dirt,
her muse’s lunacy was revered
into brilliance. What good
is that? Really. Do tell,

“That corpse you planted
last year in your garden,
has it began to sprout?”
Didn’t think so. But her
words, they’re blooming,
blooming, blooming…

linked to Poets United (Poetry Pantry, 296)

The grave of American writer and poet Sylvia Plath (1932 - 1963) at St. Thomas Beckett churchyard, Heptonstall, West Yorkshire, May 2011.
Sylvia Plath’s grave, by Amy T. Zielinski

71 thoughts on “A Dark-Scape of Living Poesy”

  1. That lotus was golden indeed, and the words, yes, blooming always. Brave to use your own words for one who wrote so dazzlingly, but yours are dazzling too. I particularly love ‘dark-scape’ and ‘fiery autumn Jazz’.

    • Her words are an uncanny perennial, aren’t they?

      I didn’t read anything by Plath until I was in my 30s. I didn’t start reading English until I was seventeen or so, and when I was first able to handle a book written in English, I focused on the classics and fairy tales. When I finally read Plath, I wanted to punch everyone who didn’t tell me to read her sooner, lol. Her work is so powerful–terrible in its sadness, a tad disturbing… but so very powerful. And it does, indeed, continue to bloom…

      I’m glad you believe my attempt to be apt. ♥

  2. “In the ears of eyes deafened” is such a wonderful line. I find Plath a rather sad figure, almost as strong for the story as the work, but honestly, I am most familiar with the Bell Jar, which was pretty great. I always wonder about Ted Hughes destroying her journals–that seemed pretty crazy to me. He is a great poet though, great poet too. Good luck and keep up the good work. k.

    • Thank you, Karin. I agree, most of what is known of Plath’s life is rather sad. But I always find such light in the fact that she was able to create such great work from the chaos her life seems to have been. I, too, believe her husband’s actions were a tad insane… I wonder what was in those journals…

  3. I am an admirer of Sylvia Plath, her story always made me feel so melancholy and sad, but her poetry rises above all of that (I think) You have done a lovely tribute to her – I love it that
    words, they’re blooming,
    blooming, blooming…”

    • Thank Ellecee, the way Plath’s melancholic motifs shine out of the page is one of the reasons why I, too, really enjoy her writing. It makes one wonder what was going on through her mind and heart, to nudge her muse to produce those pieces.

      P.S. I tried to follow your link (here and at The Garden) to your blog, but it’s not allowing me to get through. 🙁

  4. I love your description of her as fiery autumn jazz. That seems so appropriate. I read her in my 30’s, too, but just because I knew her story and I was afraid of what her words would mean to me. I was right to be afraid, but wrong not to have read her sooner. Your words were a very insightful tribute! I loved it!

    • I think she was a proper October girl–dark, moody, imaginative… So, I agree, it feels appropriate.

      I read her without knowing a thing about her. I finished The Bell Jar, and I still remember how huge my eyes were when I got to the last page. Then I read it again. And have been reading every couple of years since. I understand the apprehension of a teenager at the thought of reading her words. She speak in a language that creeps into the soul, and some of the things she says are rather troubling.

      So happy love the poem! ♥

  5. You had me at “fiery autumn jazz”. Damn. Then I read the rest and wow.
    “But her
    words, they’re blooming,
    blooming, blooming… ”

    Those blooms are you and I and all of us who have taken Plath into souls and sprung our own words from there. Your tribute to her is wonderful.

  6. Lovely! The entire poem reads with such poise and grace. Especially enamored with ” But her words, they’re blooming, blooming, blooming…” Beautifully penned 🙂

    Lots of love,

  7. WOW! This feels like Plath as well. And I love, love, love the added acid in the rebuke in the middle of the poem. It was awful no one appreciated her until she was already gone.

  8. This is bad-ass, girlie … from start to finish.

    Love these, especially:
    “She was fiery autumn Jazz” (that whole first stanza, really)
    “They thought her weird
    was spelled by mad words.”
    “that the world read as horn-
    less suicidal horses”

  9. Holy Crap… I am in awe & love your words, like BLOOMIN’ AWESOME… Your blog is my first visit (of course) and the bar amazingly high (& I’m looking more limbo than high jumper haha)… I think this whole “A Dark-Scape of Living Poesy” is what happens when talent merges with the perfect prompt… blown away Ms Wicked 🙂

  10. Oooh….this sends chills up and down my spine and into my heart…..the good kind of chills for how I love Sylvia’s words and the way that they do keep on blooming, blooming, blooming! The way you word things is so unique…your unusual perspective is so refreshing, so stunningly beautiful…..example, this: “After her flesh suckled the dirt”—who else would be able to conjure up a description like that? You are brilliant 🙂

  11. Hi Magaly,

    I thought your poem described Sylvia accurately. Have you read her “Daddy”? That poem was discussed just recently in my Literature class at university. This is a great ode to her.

    • “Daddy” is such an intense poem… a dance between an individual’s personal feelings towards one person, and from a speaker with a rather complex identity towards the world. I bet the discussion was magnificent… and for some, a bit uncomfortable.

      I miss school sooo much…

  12. The opening stanza sets the pace and I wonder how she felt being a fire no one understood..living in her own world…sad and dark yet, beautiful and I guess we will never
    know what was in those journals.

    She was fiery autumn Jazz
    in the ears of eyes deafened

  13. Oh I bet Sylvia would of loved to know how brilliant her work was as she was living especially while she was ripping wallpaper to pass time. What an awesome tribute.

  14. After her flesh suckled the dirt,
    her muse’s lunacy was revered
    into brilliance. What good
    is that?

    After death, that one’s greatness becomes more apparent. This is so in lots of instances of those who left behind gems others admire in words or works of art! Beautiful lines Magaly!


  15. So much to love – Jazz seemed like the most important word somehow – how she strayed from the path she ‘should’ have walked – with her words and her thoughts..her disdain of the peanut crunching crowd..if we had let her sing..uncensored would she still be dancing with unicorns..your poem is a great tribute – and yet i think of her children and how the last remaining flower she gave the world must feel – and if it is perhaps her that still carries the strength and creativity passed onto her through both her parents..

  16. While the whole piece is admirable, I specially like the last 2 verses. Sad to think, at times, how one great talent is much realized & appreciated only after death. I really like too the “blooming, blooming, blooming…” part. I find it perfect to end a poem like this that celebrates such an incredible poet Plath is. 🙂

  17. a great tribute for Sylvia Plath.
    she’ was not just a poet, she was also a trailblazer, and a muse for us all who wanted to explore our innermost selves. and of course she was ” fiery autumn Jazz”. 🙂
    excellent write, Magaly!

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