Sunday, April 17, 2005

Lady Lazarus

Eureka! Made a happy mistake by strolling into some hitherto ignored section of the library and bumped into rows of classics, poems and travelogues. So now I can head straight to this rather sidetracked and relatively empty section of the library and revel in such august company as Pablo Neruda, Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Frost, Sylvia Plath, Phil Larkin...
But will remember to not neglect my earlier haunt of popular fiction. After all that is where I discovered Sebastian Faulks though he, in my opinion, has earned his place among the greats by penning his World War I triology comprising of 'Birdsong', 'Charlotte Gray' and 'The girl at Lion D'Or'. Also that is where I found the rest of the novels by Joanne Harris. Prior to coming to Singapore I had read the partly autobiographical 'Chocolat' and loved it.

Currently am drowning in Sylvia Plath... for there is no other word to describe the effect her poems have on one. She needs to be read with a complete surrender of one's senses to the reading of her poems. And this is the only way, I can begin to comprehend her. Having had a boringly normal life, her poems are to me, of another world. My first introduction to her was through 'Mirror' , which I read in school and which is a rather straightforward poem compared to the rest of her writings, then 'Lesbos', which made me curious to know more about this neurotic, hate-filled poet.

'Lady Lazarus' alludes to her near-death accident when she was 10 and her 2 unsuccessful suicide attempts in a wry, self-deprecating manner ('Dying Is an art, like everything else. I do it exceptionally well.' ) . But this poem is not just that, it has multiple layers and covers a plethora of emotions. She self-congratulates ('I have done it again. One year in every ten I manage it'), horrifies, fascinates with her numerous skilful imageries, dramatizes ('It's easy enough to do it in a cell. It's easy enough to do it and stay put. It's the theatrical ') , rants at her spectators, and finally alludes that she will try again to kill herself, because as she says, it is her calling but then she seems to be confident that she will fail yet again for like a cat she has nine lives or as she so brillantly put it 'like the cat I have nine times to die'!! This is a difficult and disturbing poem to put oneself through and one emerges out of it gasping and horrified and yes, marvelling at Plath's genius.