Poems in Their Place: The Intertextuality and Order of Poetic Collections

By Neil Fraistat | Go to book overview

Ariel. But it is not likely, given the publication of the Collected Poems, which now becomes our definitive text. How ironic, in any case, that the publication of Plath's poems has depended, and continues to depend, on the very man who is, in one guise or another, their subject. In a poem not included in Ariel called "Burning the Letters" ( CP, pp. 204-5), the poet decides to do away with the hated love letters, with "the eyes and times of the postmarks":

here is an end to the writing,
The spry hooks that bend and cringe, and the smiles, the smiles.
And at least it will be a good place now, the attic.

But the attic was soon invaded, the dangerous notebooks were destroyed, and the poems that were permitted to enter the literary world had to get past the censor. The words of the dead woman, to paraphrase Auden, were modified in the guts of the living. Only now, more than twenty years after her death, can we begin to assess her oeuvre. But then, as Plath herself put it in a poem written during the last week of her life:

The blood jet is poetry,
There is no stopping it.


NOTES
1.
Sylvia Plath, Ariel ( London: Faber and Faber, 1965); Ariel ( New York: Harper & Row, 1966). The New York edition includes one poem, "The Swarm," not in the London edition. All further references to Ariel will be to the Harper & Row edition, subsequently noted as A.
2.
These early reviews are cited in Mary Kinzie, "An Informal Check List of Criticism," in The Art of Sylvia Plath, A Symposium, ed. Charles Newman ( London: Faber and Faber, 1970), pp. 293-303. This collection is subsequently cited as Newman. See also A. Alvarez, "Sylvia Plath," in Newman, pp. 56-68, and his The Savage God: A Study in Suicide ( New York: Random House, 1972), pp. 5-34.
3.
George Steiner, "Dying is an Art," The Reporter 33 ( 7 October 1965); rpt. in Newman , pp. 211-18. Plath, says Steiner, was "one of a number of young contemporary poets, novelists, themselves in no way implicated in the actual holocaust, who have done most to counter the general inclination to forget the death camps," and he calls "Daddy" "the 'Guernica' of modern poetry" (p. 218).
4.
Stephen Spender, "Warnings from the Grave," rpt. in Newman, pp. 199-203.

-331-

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Poems in Their Place: The Intertextuality and Order of Poetic Collections
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction the Place of the Book and the Book as Place 3
  • Notes 14
  • Some Issues for Study of Integrated Collections 18
  • Notes 40
  • The Theory and Practice of Poetic Arrangement from Vergil to Ovid 44
  • Notes 63
  • Sequences, Systems, Models Sidney and the Secularization of Sonnets 66
  • Notes 91
  • Jonson, Marvell, and Miscellaneity? 95
  • Notes 115
  • The Arrangement and Order of John Donne's Poems 119
  • Appendix A: Epigrams 150
  • Appendix B: Love Elegies 150
  • Appendix C: Epicedes and Obsequies 153
  • Appendix D: Divine Poems 154
  • Appendix E: Verse Letters 155
  • "Strange Text!" "Paradise Regain'D . . . to Which is Added Samson Agonistes" 164
  • Notes 191
  • "Images Reflect from Art to Art" Alexander Pope's Collected Works of 1717 195
  • Notes 231
  • Multum in Pairvo Wordsworth's Poems, in Two Volumes of 1807 234
  • Notes 251
  • The Book of Byron and the Book of a World 254
  • Notes 271
  • The Arrangement of Browning's Dramatic Lyrics (1842) 273
  • Notes 286
  • Whitman's Leaves and the American "Lyric-Epic" 289
  • Notes 306
  • Marjorie Perloff the Two Ariels the (re)making of the Sylvia Plath Canon 308
  • Notes 331
  • Index 335
  • Notes on the Contributors 343
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