Confessional / The Arts: Books, Poetry, Photography, and Music

Sylvia Plath: Dominatrix

U1889231My dad taught me about Solipsism when I was around nine years old.  Solipsism is “the belief that all reality is just one’s own imagining of reality, and that one’s self is the only thing that exists.”  When he told me about Solipsism, it put a name to something I’d daydreamed about before.  Young philosopher that I was, I’d pick my boogers on the cement stoop of our house and wonder if there was really anything further than what I could see.  I recently discovered “Soliloquy of the Solipsist,” a poem by Sylvia Plath.

I?
I walk alone;
The midnight street
Spins itself from under my feet;
My eyes shut
These dreaming houses all snuff out;
Through a whim of mine
Over gables the moon’s celestial onion
Hangs high.

I
Make houses shrink
And trees diminish
By going far; my look’s leash
Dangles the puppet-people
Who, unaware how they dwindle,
Laugh, kiss, get drunk,
Nor guess that if I choose to blink
They die.

I
When in good humour,
Give grass its green
Blazon sky blue, and endow the sun
With gold;
Yet, in my wintriest moods, I hold
Absolute power
To boycott color and forbid any flower
To be.

I
Know you appear
Vivid at my side,
Denying you sprang out of my head,
Claiming you feel
Love fiery enough to prove flesh real,
Though it’s quite clear
All your beauty, all your wit, is a gift, my dear,
From me.

This poem gets into my head, it’s stunning and bold.  It’s like I’m crouching behind a bush while I stare, slack-jawed into Sylvia Plath’s dark, twisted fantasy.  The past few days I have been gorging myself on Sylvia Plath.  I adore her for her fierce vulnerability.  I love manic depressives, really.  I love the delusional grandeur of manic episodes which is on full display in “Soliloquy of a Solipsist.”  In the second stanza, her “look’s leash Dangles the puppet-people,”  and no one suspects it.  I’m such a sucker for a dominatrix.  The last stanza is condescending domination.  He only exists because she created him.

I was clicking through pictures of her with her children, her with Ted Hughes; she was always smiling a beautiful smile.  But it is her dark side which makes the smile so alluring and which has me scouring her photos and poems more than fifty years after she sealed her kitchen off with wet cloths and gassed herself in her own oven.  The dark side is tempting and mysterious.  I love my dark, depressive side and I understand why some depressives resist medication.  I feel very creative when I am down.  Fortunately I have this strong drive to achieve happiness.  I have medication, therapy, and even, sometimes, meditation.  I wish Sylvia Plath had had these modern advantages, but then I may have never known about her.  For the pleasure this poem has given me, I think her misery was all worth it ; )

solipsism. (n.d.). The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Retrieved June 22, 2013, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/solipsism

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9 thoughts on “Sylvia Plath: Dominatrix

  1. I loved her writing when I was in high school and college, but I do not remember this one. It is beautiful and frightening. And good for me to hear today. I was struck by the same line, as well as, “The midnight street
    Spins itself from under my feet;
    My eyes shut
    These dreaming houses all snuff out”

    Wow! Particularly on this day when I am trying to get over a sort of selfishness blackout 🙂 it was a good one for me to hear.

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