After whose stroke the wood rings,
And the echoes!
Off from the center like horses.
Wells like tears, like the
To re-establish its mirror
Over the rock
That drops and turns,
A white skull,
Eaten by weedy greens.
Years later I
Encounter them on the road—-
Words dry and riderless,
The indefatigable hoof-taps.
From the bottom of the pool, fixed stars
Govern a life.
Sylvia Plath (written in the same month that she died – February 1963)
S1 – Well axes are sharp and cutting their purpose to bite into wood. Words when released for consumption can be sharp and cutting – very true for SP as I think TH would surely agree! They can move from the centre of the person especially if they have been well thought out … and like horses travel … to whom they go is another matter … and what they mean as they are met by travellers who take any notice is again another matter entirely, but once released they can travel far and forever perhaps … SP’s words are at this very moment reaching the minds of many.
S2 – SP’s words were always part of her very being … the sap in the wood … and when released it is impossible for her to recover completely perhaps … or at least settle back to where she was before … you could say it was as though each of her poems was her own baby – I can accept a certain poetic life to this view … however, in this poem we have the intensity of the release of her words in terms of tears and sap, the essence of wood is sap … tears flow from her passion and of course from the head (link to skull) … and we know she put her very soul into much of her writing … and indeed her writing was at times a desperate cry for help given her mental instability.
S3 – words come from the head and thought … and years later this will be the fate of the body … an empty skull … empty after the initial disclosure … and many years later SP perhaps looks back, reflects on what she once wrote … dry and riderless … they are beyond her control and they never have the intensity that they had when first written … I guess the same for everyone who writes from the heart.
S4 … they are indefatigable … never tiring they will travel forever … and in line with horses in the first stanza they are as hoof-taps that will never lose their sound. They come from the rock the solid bottom of the pool … in line with stanza 2 … SP the rock and a rock that is governed by the stars – a distinct spiritual dimension to her life … governed by something outside herself … something fixed and external as the stars above the universe.