American poets for 4th July: Wallace Stevens

So, I’ve used American Poets as a prism through which to view my relationship with poetry.  This here is the future.  More exploration of the unknown, including pushing back from contemporary to modern.  See how it goes.

I was drawn to this one by the title – it intrigued me.  I read it once and was unsure, although I had a sense there was something there.  I reread it and kind of liked it.  By the time I’d written it out it had me.

Good Man, Woman Bad by Wallace Stevens

You say that spite avails her nothing, that

You rest intact in conscience and intact

In self, a man of longer time than days,

Of larger company than one.  Therefore,

Pure scientist, you look with nice aplomb

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American poets for 4th July: Sylvia Plath

OK, we’re going to have to agree to play nice and share here.  I mean she might have been born in the US, but she lived in the UK.  With Ted Hughes for goodness sake.  And she died here.

Anyway.  Enough about her, let’s talk about me.  Plath forms part of the reunification between me and poetry; the army who convinced me to give it another try.  I’d seen the odd poem here and there that I connected with, but reading a book of her selected poems was the first time I felt a connection with a poet.  I flickered through the book, my jaw dropping lower with each poem.  I’ve since discovered that my favourites are her poems about motherhood – Morning Song and You’re, which contains the best line ever in poetry.  But this one.  This one was the hooker:

Face Lift by Sylvia Plath

You bring me good news from the clinic,

Whipping off your silk scarf, exhibiting the tight white

Mummy-cloths, smiling: I’m all right.

When I was nine, a lime-green anesthetist

Fed me banana-gas through a frog mask. The nauseous vault

Boomed with bad dreams and the Jovian voices of surgeons.

Then mother swam up, holding a tin basin.

O I was sick.

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