Saturday, 11 December 2010

Blizzards, sports and Gossip Girl?

It has been a long time since my last update. A large percent of this absence can be attributed to workload and the also.. the blizzarding snowfall the has enveloped Ireland over the past two weeks. We are so ill-equipped for such weather here, it again made me think of 'Snow Blitz' written by Sylvia Plath in 1963.

"The main road had not been plowed either. Random buses and cabs crawled along in deep white tracks. Here and there men with newspapers, brooms and rags attempted to discover their cars".

Driving conditions were so bad that I was unable to make it to University for quite a few days and my family home sporadically loses internet connection at intervals so I was quite cut off from the world! Reading (and relating to) 'Snow Blitz' again however, really made me think. Aside from the poems in "Ariel" and some Letters to Aurelia Plath, it is the only other piece of surviving material we have from 1963. I cannot understand why it has not been looked at more critically. The short story depicts very clearly the isolation, frustration and cold felt by Plath that winter. I personally related to the text when the central character realises that without running water (as a result of frozen pipes), faces could not be washed and tea could not be made!

Personally, without a cup of tea in the morning I generally resemble a bear (not unlike the 59th!), and it is with these smaller details of description Plath included in this short story that ring home the actual physicality of what she must have went through in the cold winter months leading to her death. Not having tea is one thing, but no running water, no heating, two sick children and very little help would bring any human being to a dark place. Here in 2010, the past few days have been miserable, I've had to plod knee-deep in snow to catch buses (many of which I found not to be running because of the snow - this information I could only assume after waiting 45mins in the blistering cold with no arriving transportation), sleep with many layers of pajamas and slip my way over footpaths. I can't even begin to imagine how one would cope with young children in a city with no family or close friends.

With the addition of 'Last Letter' by Ted Hughes, shedding more light on the cold winter and how Sylvia must have felt in those days; the image of her trudging back and forth to a telephone box to call Hughes is all the more poignant and miserable. 'Snow Blitz' however, is full of classic Plath wit and humour - the camaraderie of the London people rallying together gives a very human edge to the story, making it an enjoyable read and not as bleak as it could have been.

In a world away from snow, but in the same humourous vein as Plath, I received an email from Mike Cahill whose Read and React American Football blog featured a very Plathy synopsis allying NFL teams with quotes from our own dear Sylvia! Mike and I both wondered if Plath was the sporting type - I know she was on the high school basketball team but in terms of football we both agreed she could probably throw a killer ball!

Finally, I noted a Plath pop-culture reference the other day. While snowed in, I thought it best to catch up on my trashy television indulgences but when Serena from Gossip Girl asked her teacher about arbour imagery in the poetry of Sylvia Plath, I knew it was time to hit the books again! If only The Vampire Diaries would include a Plath reference: I would have to find some way to fit it into my thesis and divert a whole section to the outward physique of Damon Salvatore;)

P.s. Anyone got any suggestions for Serena?? An arbour can be defined as a shaded place formed by the leaves and branches of trees and plants that interweave naturally or are trained to grow around a trellis. For some reason 'Black Rook in Rainy Weather' comes to mind immediately for me. I visualise Plath standing under a tree, in a shaded place looking up at interwoven branches and leaves to see the bird above. Then the speaker's gaze moves onto the sky.. and the inevitable bigger questions!


Anonymous said...

Such a good point about the physicality of it - we tend to go, oh, she was crazy, she was depressed, she was a woman who knew everything that was tough about being a woman, etc etc, but those were some genuinely grim and hard circumstances for her.

Anonymous said...

Aaaaand the captcha thing for that last comment had 'oven' in it. How strangely apt.

The Plath Diaries said...

There's a great article by Marjorie Perloff which details the exact point you make there, Civ. It's called "The Two Ariels" if you feel like running that title through the LION database or JSTOR.

!!! The captcha! I remember one day I was feeling particularly down in the dumps and the captcha said "uglyface"!! ;)

Tori said...

Interestingly, I watched that episode this week and assumed she was talking about Ann Arbor in Michigan!

mike said...

Thanks for posting the link Maeve!

BridgetAnna said...

I think of the arbour at her house in Wellesely, MA. There are pictures of it floating around.