Poetry Appreciation: ‘Lady Lazarus’ by Sylvia Plath

This post is a part of my ‘Poetry Appreciation’ segment wherein every once in a while I share a poem that I like. Today I’ve chosen Sylvia Plath’s ‘Lady Lazarus’.

About Sylvia Plath: Sylvia Plath (27 October 1932 – 11 February 1963) was an American poet, short-story writer, and novelist. She is often credited with advancing the genre of confessional poetry and some of her best-known works include – The Colossus and Other Poems, Ariel, and The Bell Jar.

About Lady Lazarus: ‘Lady Lazarus’ was originally published in 1965, two years after the death of Sylvia Plath in the collection called Ariel. Written in 1962, the poem alludes to the biblical Lazarus who was resurrected by Jesus and uses this theme of resurrection to show the profound suffering caused by living in an oppressive patriarchal society.

Lady Lazarus

By: Sylvia Plath

I have done it again.   
One year in every ten   
I manage it——

*

A sort of walking miracle, my skin   
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,   
My right foot

*

A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine   
Jew linen.

*

Peel off the napkin   
O my enemy.   
Do I terrify?——

*

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?   
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.

*

Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be   
At home on me

*

And I a smiling woman.   
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.

*

This is Number Three.   
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.

*

What a million filaments.   
The peanut-crunching crowd   
Shoves in to see

*

Them unwrap me hand and foot——
The big strip tease.   
Gentlemen, ladies

*

These are my hands   
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,

*

Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.   
The first time it happened I was ten.   
It was an accident.

*

The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.   
I rocked shut

*

As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

*

Dying
Is an art, like everything else.   
I do it exceptionally well.

*

I do it so it feels like hell.   
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I’ve a call.

*

It’s easy enough to do it in a cell.
It’s easy enough to do it and stay put.   
It’s the theatrical

*

Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute   
Amused shout:

*

‘A miracle!’
That knocks me out.   
There is a charge

*

For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge   
For the hearing of my heart——
It really goes.

*

And there is a charge, a very large charge   
For a word or a touch   
Or a bit of blood

*

Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.   
So, so, Herr Doktor.   
So, Herr Enemy.

*

I am your opus,
I am your valuable,   
The pure gold baby

*

That melts to a shriek.   
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

*

Ash, ash—
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there——

*

A cake of soap,   
A wedding ring,   
A gold filling.

*

Herr God, Herr Lucifer   
Beware
Beware.

*

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair   
And I eat men like air.

***

What do you think of the poem? And is there any poem that you would like to recommend?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s