The Courage of ShuttingUp

The courage of the shut mouth, in spite of artillery The line pink and quiet, a worm, basking. There are black disks behind it, the disks of outrage, And the outrage of a sky, the lined brain of it. The disks revolve, they ask to be heard Loaded, as they are, with accounts of bastardies. Bastardies, usages, desertions and doubleness, The needle journeying in its groove, Silver beast between two dark canyons, A great surgeon, now a tattooist, Tattooing over and over the same blue grievances, On...

Gold mouths cry

Gold mouths cry with the green young certainty of the bronze boy remembering a thousand autumns and how a hundred thousand leaves came sliding down his shoulderblades persuaded by his bronze heroic reason. We ignore the coming doom of gold and we are glad in this bright metal season. Even the dead laugh among the goldenrod. The bronze boy stands kneedeep in centuries, with sunlight of a thousand years upon his lips and his eyes gone blind with leaves.

Memoirs of a Spinach Picker

Back then, the sun Didn't go down in such a hurry. How it Lit things, that lamp of the Possible Lay over the leaves like a clear cellophane, A pane of dragonfly wing, when they left me With a hundred bushel baskets on the edge Of the spinach patch. Bunch after bunch of green Upstanding spinach-tips wedged in a circle Layer on layer, and you had a basket Irreproachable as any lettuce head, Pure leafage. A hundred baskets by day's end. Sun and sky mirrored the green of the spinach. In the tin...

Lesson in Vengeance

Of drafty cells and draftier castles, Of dragons breathing without the frame of fables, Saint and king unfisted obstruction's knuckles By no miracle or majestic means, As smack of spite and the overscrupulous Twisting of thumbscrews one soul tied in sinews, One white horse drowned, and all the unconquered pinnacles Of God's city and Babylon's Scourging to sores his own red sluices For the relish of heaven, relentless, dousing with prickles Of horsehair and lice his horny loins Squanders a...

Stars Over the Dordogne

Stars are dropping thick as stones into the twiggy Picket of trees whose silhouette is darker Than the dark of the sky because it is quite starless. The woods are a well. The stars drop silently. They seem large, yet they drop, and no gap is visible. Nor do they send up fires where they fall Or any signal of distress or anxiousness. They are eaten immediately by the pines. Where I am at home, only the sparsest stars Arrive at twilight, and then after some effort. And they are wan, dulled by...

Epitaph for Fire and Flower

To prevent fall, or anchor the fluent air In quartz, as crack your skull to keep These two most perishable lovers from the touch That will kindle angels' envy, scorch and drop Their fond hearts charred as any match. Mouth's instant flare for future looks Stars shoot their petals, and suns run to seed, However you may sweat to hold such darling wrecks Now in the crux of their vows hang your ear, Still as a shell hear what an age of glass These lovers prophesy to lock embrace Secure in museum...

Bitter Strawberries

All that morning in the strawberry field They talked about the Russians. Squatted down between the rows We listened. We heard the head woman say, 'Bomb them off the map.' Horseflies buzzed, paused and stung. And the taste of strawberries Turned thick and sour. Mary said slowly, 'I've got a fella Old enough to go. If anything should happen . . .' The sky was high and blue. Two children laughed at tag In the tall grass, Leaping awkward and long-legged Across the rutted road. The fields were full...

Sonnet to Satan

In darkroom of your eye the mo< jnly mind somersaults to counterfeit eclipse bright angels black out over logic's land under shutter of their handicaps. Commanding that corkscrew comet jet forth ink to pitch the white world down in swiveling flood, you overcast all order's noonday rank and turn god's radiant photograph to shade. Steepling snake in that contrary light invades the dilate lens of genesis to print your flaming image in birthspot with characters no cockcrow can deface. O maker of...

A complete list of poems composed before 1956

This alphabetical list includes all the poems Sylvia Plath composed before 1956. The texts of all but half a dozen of these early pieces are in the Sylvia Plath Archive of juvenilia in the Lilly Library at Indiana University. The rest are with the Sylvia Plath Estate. The bracketed date following certain titles indicates the year of composition, where it is known. An asterisk before a title indicates that it is included in the selection of fifty early poems printed above, p. 299. Dirge in Three...