Tag Archives: Poetry

52 Years of The Bell Jar

TBJ

The Bell Jar was originally published on January 14, 1963.  So, as per usual, I am late in my blog post commemorating the anniversary!  If you’ve read older posts on my blog then you already know how much I adore Sylvia Plath and her writing.  I have her signature tattooed on my body, I visited the site of her former dormitory at Smith College, yadda, yadda, yadda….

The Bell Jar wasn’t the first piece that I read by Plath, but it is the piece that I connect with the most. I actually couldn’t tell you how old I was when I first read this novel, but I can tell you that I was a teenage girl struggling with things that teenage girls struggle with, but those teenage girl struggles sat atop something much deeper that I didn’t quite know how to put into words. Luckily, Sylvia Plath did. Finding this novel was like finding a confidant or a best friend who knew exactly what I was feeling. Someone who knew how hard it could be to just wake up in the morning and do the things that you love. Or just breathe. For me, this novel was a lifeline, and, in many ways, it still acts as one today.

Plath, like no other writer that I’ve read (yet?), illustrates depression very accurately. There is nothing fluffed up in the pages of The Bell Jar, and there aren’t any apologies either. The novel fully explores the darkness, the hopelessness, the madness, the stigma, and the unpredictability of the disease. You can’t necessarily look at another person – or their life – and really be able to tell whether or not they suffer from depression. But, yes, it is a disease, and, unfortunately, it sometimes feels as though it’s one disease that the sufferer needs to be embarrassed of or apologize for.

One of the greatest gifts that literature gives to the world is its ability to connect people across time, culture, space. In the case of The Bell Jar, we have a novel written 52 years ago that is as relevant now as it was then. To be a  person stifled by a bell jar of one’s own – to be able to pick up this novel and know that someone else out there, at some point in time, felt like you do right now. That’s an amazing and beautiful thing.

In conclusion, here are some of my favorite quotes from The Bell Jar.  What are yours?

“The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence.”

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery – air, mountains, trees, people. And I thought,’This is what it is to be happy.'”

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Contantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above were many more figs that I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

Plath

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Filed under American Author, American Poetry, Sylvia Plath

I’m baaaack! and Maya Angelou

Hello everyone!  It has been quite a while since my last post.  Maintaining a house, a job, a pregnancy, and now a baby will do that to you, I guess.  Or, better stated, to me.  I am certain that there are plenty of people out there who could have juggled life and a blog all at once.  Nevertheless, in an effort to RE-kick start my writing, I’m getting back down to it and updating on a more regular basis.  Stoked?  Me too.

The world has lost a great voice since my last posting.  Maya Angelou was a blast of inspiration and will continue to touch the hearts, lives, and minds of people forever.  Physical death cannot snuff out the memory of her accomplishments or the legacy of her words.  Personally, I look forward to sharing her book, Life Doesn’t Frighten Me, with my son when he is a little bit older.  I read this as an adult and feel ready to take on the world and maintain the hope that my son, growing up, will find strength within its lines, as well.

Life Doesn't Frighten Me

Life Doesn’t Frighten Me

 

In closing, here is a video of Maya Angelou reciting her poem “Phenomenal Woman”.  The first time I heard this poem I was an awkward, confused teenage girl wondering what my place in the world would ever be.  The words took my breath away; she stopped my heart with the shock of the realization that being a woman is a beautiful blessing in this life.  I am strong.  I can rise above.  I can simply be myself.

Thank you, Maya Angelou, for all that you gave to this world.

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Filed under American Poetry, Poetry

writer’s block by Charles Bukowski

Today’s poem is about something that plagues me more than I’d like…

 
writer’s block
Charles Bukowski

 
the typewriter sits silent, it’s as if you’ve
been betrayed, it’s as if a murder has
occurred.
yet words still run through your brain:
“the Spanish bird sings!”
what can
that mean?
at least it’s a ripple, even if unusable.

when will the keys
beat into the
paper
again?
it’s so very easy to die long before the
fact of it.

I look at the machine resting under its black
cover; an unpaid gas bill sleeps on top of
it.

there is a small refrigerator in the
room, it makes the only audible sound
here.

I open it and look inside:
it’s empty.

I sit back down in the chair and wait; then I
decide to fool the
typewriter.

I write this
now
with a ballpoint
pen
in a red
notebook;
I am sneaking up on a poem;
there will soon be something for that
frigging
typewriter
to do!

there is a French expression, “without
literature
life is hell.”

the glory and power of that!

now let the Spanish bird sing!

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Filed under American Poetry, Charles Bukowski, Favorites, Poetry

Song of the Witches by William Shakespeare

Magic Circle by John William Waterhouse

It is officially Autumn and tomorrow is the first day of October.  Halloween is coming!  So, here is a classic to get us in the mood for the month of spooky happenings and copious amounts of candy!

Song of the Witches
William Shakespeare  (from Macbeth)

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

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Creepy child reciting a creepy poem – The Innocents (1961)

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Le Chat (The Cat) by Charles Baudelaire

Little Ophelia with a skull.

 

 

The Cat

Come, my fine cat, against my loving heart;
Sheathe your sharp claws, and settle.
And let my eyes into your pupils dart
Where agate sparks with metal.

Now while my fingertips caress at leisure
Your head and wiry curves,
And that my hand’s elated with the pleasure
Of your electric nerves,

I think about my woman — how her glances
Like yours, dear beast, deep-down
And cold, can cut and wound one as with lances;

Then, too, she has that vagrant
And subtle air of danger that makes fragrant
Her body, lithe and brown.

— Roy Campbell, Poems of Baudelaire (New York: Pantheon Books, 1952)

 

And in French:

Le Chat

Viens, mon beau chat, sur mon coeur amoureux;
Retiens les griffes de ta patte,
Et laisse-moi plonger dans tes beaux yeux,
Mêlés de métal et d’agate.

Lorsque mes doigts caressent à loisir
Ta tête et ton dos élastique,
Et que ma main s’enivre du plaisir
De palper ton corps électrique,

Je vois ma femme en esprit. Son regard,
Comme le tien, aimable bête
Profond et froid, coupe et fend comme un dard,

Et, des pieds jusques à la tête,
Un air subtil, un dangereux parfum
Nagent autour de son corps brun.

— Charles Baudelaire

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Filed under Cats, Poetry

Yesterday by W.S. Merwin

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Filed under American Poetry, Poetry, W.S. Merwin

Adrienne Rich (May 16, 1929 – March 27, 2012)

My heart broke when I came across the story about Adrienne Rich’s passing.  She was an amazing women, artist, and poet.  In honor of her many accomplishments and contributions to the world of poetry, this weekend will be all about her.

Please enjoy the below videos of some of her poetry being read aloud:

What are some of your favorite Adrienne Rich poems?

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Filed under Adrienne Rich, American Poetry, Poetry

A Song by John Donne

GO and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil’s foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy’s stinging,
And find
What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.

If thou be’st born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights,
Till age snow white hairs on thee,
Thou, when thou return’st, wilt tell me,
All strange wonders that befell thee,
And swear,
No where
Lives a woman true and fair.

If thou find’st one, let me know,
Such a pilgrimage were sweet;
Yet do not, I would not go,
Though at next door we might meet,
Though she were true, when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
Yet she
Will be
False, ere I come, to two, or three.

Read (in a perfect-for-poetry-voice) by Richard Burton:

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Monday Quote: Rumi

Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi - Bilinmiyor

Every object, every being

is a jar full of delight.

Rumi

 

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Filed under Poetry, Quotes, Rumi