“The Blood Jet Is Poetry”: Sylvia Plath’s Practical Poetics
This essay discusses the nature and function of poetry and poetic inspiration as central themes in the poetry of Sylvia Plath, an aspect of her poetry that has elicited surprisingly little critical attention over the years. Here, I trace the poetological strand in Plath’s poetry through four poems: the early ‘Black Rook in Rainy Weather’ (1956), ‘The Moon and the Yew Tree’ (1961), and, finally, ‘Ariel’ and ‘Lady Lazarus’ (both October, 1962). These poems all engage with and raise issues that relate to poetics in different ways. Read together, these four poems demonstrate the centrality of poetological themes in Plath’s poetry—how they in different ways represent and debate the genesis, nature, form, and function of poetry.
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