Edge Sylvia Plath #
This has all the hallmarks of a suicide note. It is the last poem written by Plath before she put her head in an oven and gassed herself.
Suicide has been an ongoing historical problem. Judas felt betrayed by the Jewish authorities, so resorted to it. Hamlet contemplates it; Ophelia commits it. Abraham Lincoln entertained it following his persistent “melancholy”, which had every appearance of severe clinical depression following the death of fiancée Ann Rutledge.
Youth suicide is a growing problem throughout the world and all governments are attempting to deal with it.
Much of the interest the public took to Plath’s poetry has a salacious, ghoulish and voyeuristic stench to it. As one uncharitable critic put it; “It was a smart career move”. Her editor at the New Yorker said that her poems were better because “what their author threatened she performed, and her work gained an extra status of truth” – because she killed herself. There is overwhelming evidence that she had a long predisposition towards it. One of her aunts died that way and later her son Nick takes his own life. Is there an inherited gene?
The woman is perfected
Body wears the smile of accomplishment,
The illusion of a Greek necessity
Flows in the scrolls of her toga,
Feet seem to be saying:
We have come so far, it is over.
Each dead child coiled, a white serpent,
One at each little
Pitcher of milk, now empty
She has folded
Them back into her body as petals
Of a rose close when the garden
Stiffens and odors bleed
From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.
The moon has nothing to be sad about,
Staring from her hood of bone.
She is used to this sort of thing.
Her blacks crackle and drag.
Plath appears extremely at peace with her resolve to take this final step she has been attempting most of her life. Her smile is serene, By referencing the Greek toga, she may equate herself with Medea in exacting her revenge on Jason for deserting her for a younger higher status woman.
The simple line, “it is over” implies a sense of relief and completion, without any regret. She feels assured the children will be alright. The rose closes up at night when the garden shuts down with approval. Even the moon, which has seen all, gives its blessing despite her “blacks crackle and drag.
The Romans and the Japanese cultures accept suicide as an acceptable self-respecting choice.