Sylvia Plath’s Journals

by Elizabeth Greene

That rollercoaster ride
through her short intense life—
a whirlwind tour with vivid now-familiar
ports of call: Smith, Cambridge, the
kiss at Falcon Yard,  she emerging
without her hairband, earrings,
he with blood running down his neck—
Paris, honeymoon with Ted
in Benidorm, marriage, Smith again and teaching
(agony of inexorable classes), Boston, Yaddo
and the breakthrough birthday poems,
her daughter’s birth, her first home, Court Green, in Devon,
lush with apples and daffodils.
Despair and aspiration urging her on,
joy a brief resting place.
Neither kept her from breathing in sky and wind,
from rejoicing in Elizabeth Bishop
or delectable ham with asparagus, strawberries,
or raincoats with pink linings—
but always the writing, the writing—
pushing herself through the next story,
the next poem, the next market, till  finally
the New Yorker poems, The Colossus, The Bell Jar,
Ariel in manuscript.  She wrote:
A life is passing. My life.

When I reread the journals, I’m breathless
with awareness that the final curtain will ring down
in three years or two or four months,
She was only thirty.  No clue in the journals, as we have them,
or in the letters to her mother.  Only in the poems:
This woman is perfected.  Words dry and riderless.
From the bottom of the pool, fixed stars/Govern a life.


Note: A life is passing: from the journals
This woman is perfected: from “Edge.”
Words dry and riderless. . . : from “Words.”

— from Juniper Volume 1, Issue 1