Sonnet To Satan by Sylvia Plath:
In darkroom of your eye the moonly mind
someraults 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 proud planet`s negative
obscure the scalding sun till no clocks move.
I have to admit a deep, personal emotional affinity with poets who have walked the razor`s edge of depression and fell; their lives cut short by misfiring neurons and chemical imbalance. Who knows. I am inexorably drawn to the work of artists who exist on the cusp of terminal breakdown, and certainly feel their acute pain, if nothing else. In poor Sylvia`s day, the best she could hope for in terms of understanding and hope was to hear the common refrain of ” pull yourself together,” such is the mantra of the unafflicted.
She had to cope with the cold London weather, marital discord, and child rearing, all heaped upon a fragile psyche ill equipped to cope with emotional pressure. You may say ” so do millions of other women,” but Sylvia wasn`t other women, the mental problems she struggled with on a daily basis, were the reason she could produce such works of astonishing insight and wonder. She had an obvious obsession with death that came through in many of her poems; and Sonnet To Satan is so obviously a product of her dark side.
It really doesn`t matter whether you live an affluent, materially comfortable life, which from the outside looking in, may seem like living the dream; the inside story of depression doesn`t take such trivialities into account. Sylvia appeared to have it all, yet internally, she took no joy in it; she wanted out. Her poems scream this at us like finger nails being scratched, long and hard across a blackboard: they`re edgy, bitingly sharp, and rhythmic, injecting volatile energy at the page like a machine gun loaded with despair and anger. She was a troubled soul that`s for sure; many of her poems are filled with gruesome, unnerving, no holds barred descriptions which are perhaps difficult for a “normal” person without psychological problems to fully grasp.
I sometimes feel sorry that she was perhaps, born out of time; nowadays going to a “shrink” and seeking pharmacological help is no more shameful than going to the hairdressers, or writing about your problems on Twitter, Facebook, or a blog. Her only emotional outlet was the written word, and yet so few people read her thoughts in her lifetime; only after her death did her husband, Ted Hughes, sifting through her work, put it all in order and eventually publish it to universal acclaim. Her poetry was emotionally disjointed, eerie and ever so slightly insane, but this offers us a great insight into her mind. She`s vivid, strange, and crystal clear in her subjects, regardless of what they may have been. Her unstable life is strikingly apparent in the words she wrote; but they are deeply meaningful, moving and emotionally satisfying to those of us who travel down the same rocky road as Sylvia. I think she is a Goddess of the Word.