Mad Girl’s Love Song ~ Sylvia Plath

I created this spokenword video back in 2016… I was looking for a poem very different from my own writing.  I found a spoken word poem on a You Tube page by the Radio Theartre Group, the poem was Sylvia Plath’s ‘Lady Lazarus‘ read by Natalie Clark.  I had previously read Sylvia Plath’s poetry but didn’t find I fully related to her subjects.  But it’s amazing how after hearing a poem spoken extremely well with great emphasis, the kind of feeling and emotion Natalie Clark so expertly conveys in her reading, it completely changed my perception of Sylvia Plath and her poetry.  Perhaps hearing a human voice speaking the words is what makes the connection and turns what can be a cold poem into warm reality? 

I reread some of Sylvia’s poems, they began to speak to me in a much more vivid way.  Mad Girl’s Love Song stood out as a poem I might want to try reading, partly because of it’s popularity but also the poem intrigued me as to what it was about.  On the surface it appears to be about a failed relationship, a disappointment in a lover, at least that is what is generally assumed for the poem.  As I began to read it out loud for the recording I felt a little confused at what I was reading… phrases such as ‘God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan’s men‘.  I was literally trying to work out how those strong, slightly biblical statements had anything to do with disappointment in a lover. 

Something in the back of my mind didn’t feel right… I felt foolish reading a poem I was not entirely convinced of it’s true meaning.  I’ve never done that before.  I like to fully understand a poem so I can read it with the right emphasis.  I carried on reading,  ignoring the little voice telling me “you can’t read that, you don’t even know what it’s about!”🙄 

After reading it at least six times, it suddenly dawned on me what it could be about.  Maybe it was not about a human lover bitterly disappointing, but coming to a point in life where the belief in God no longer feels real.

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan’s men
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

Don’t worry… I’m not about go into any lengthy religious explanations, get into whether God is real or not, or suggest my theory on the meaning of the poem is 100% correct.  But just point out some interesting facts I discovered about Sylvia Plath that may make a bit more sense of my theory. 

After the mind blowing poetry reading experience, I searched online for a poetry analysis for ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’.  I found the same kind of unconvincing explanation over and over… it was about Sylvia Plath’s disappointment in her marriage, or maybe an earlier relationship.  When I delved deeper to when the poem was published, I found she didn’t write it as late as I thought.  She wrote the poem in 1951, age 24, while attending Smith College.  It was first published in 1953 in a magazine called Mademoiselle.  She didn’t marry the poet Ted Hughes until 1956.  So the poem couldn’t possibly be about disappointment in her marriage.  It’s also interesting to note, at 8 years old Sylvia’s father unexpectedly died due to complications after surgery.  She experienced a loss of faith after her father’s death and remained ambivalent about religion throughout her life. (Quote from Wikipedia).

I can’t prove my theory is correct, but there is one thing I do know for sure… after waking up, seeing a deeper meaning, I was able to read the poem in a different way.  For a few minutes I felt that state of mind, the cold disappointed honesty in admitting something wholeheartedly believed might not to be true… they didn’t show up, and never would because it was just a comforting invention of the mind, a way of coping, and nothing more.

If you find the subject of interest and you want do some of your own research, you might find this analysis of the poem worth reading. I thought it was excellent, and had some slightly similar suggestions close to my own feelings on the meaning of Mad Girls Love Song.


I no longer have comments on my posts… I guess you’ve all noticed.  But don’t feel shut out, if you’d like to say something relating to this post… any post, or just drop by and say hello, you’re welcome to leave a message on my about page.

The next post will be my own poetry… just in case it looks like I’ve given up writing my own material.  No, not at all, I’ve just been busy with photography and… well, life! 😊

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I Ask My Mother To Sing (Li-Young Lee)

She begins, and my grandmother joins her.
Mother and daughter sing like young girls.
If my father were alive, he would play
his accordion and sway like a boat.
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I’ve never been in Peking, or the Summer Palace,
nor stood on the great Stone Boat to watch
the rain begin on Kuen Ming Lake, the picnickers
running away in the grass.
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But I love to hear it sung;
how the waterlilies fill with rain until
they overturn, spilling water into water,
then rock back, and fill with more.
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Both women have begun to cry.
But neither stops her song.
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Li-Young Lee
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I’ve been reading the poetry of Li-Young Lee recently.  There is something truly beautiful about his writing.  Even though Li-Young Lee is a well known poet in America, I’ve not heard of his name or writing before.  While reading his poetry it spoke to me of an experienced poet, one who considers carefully about what he wants to convey in a deeply literary sense, but still manages to create poems anyone can relate to.  He writes a lot of his childhood and family which is a subject I’m often drawn to write about myself.
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After reading I Ask My Mother To Sing it reminded me of the water lily I captured in Plantation Garden, Norwich… I thought they would go well together.  I hope you enjoy the poem as much as I did.
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If you would like to read more of Li-Young Lee’s poetry you can find a selection at the Poetry Foundation.
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While looking up who this wonderful poet was I found an old video on You Tube where he reads some of his poems and talks a little about the background of his family and where he was born in Indonesia.

If you enjoyed this video you may also like this one too, where he reads another selection of his poetry at a public event at The University Of California.  If you’ve not heard of Li-Young Lee, the introductory is well worth a listen.

Legacy

WORDS IN THE LIGHT

You were ready to walk
through the Night with me
but you died on a Winter day
and left me Spring as a legacy.

Flowers and words in blue,
words and flowers from you:
now what is yours is mine
and what is mine is yours.

Mummy,
Love is not missing.
Thank you for
the Blessing.

© Frédéric Georges Martin

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The Dangling Conversation ~ Simon & Garfunkel

Some time ago my SoundCloud friend Mark introduced me to The Dangling Conversation.  I thought I knew pretty much all of Simon and Garfunkel’s well known songs… but I was so wrong, I’d never heard this one.

I absolutely loved it and found myself drawn to listen to this delightful song again and again.  One day while listening, I realised it might make an interesting poem for one of my spoken word creations.  Here it is… with a simple video included.  I also uploaded a version to my SoundCloud page.

I find it very interesting to speak poetry that isn’t mine.  It helps form a different pattern in my mind on how to speak and how to write poems.  We all have patterns that are part of how we think, which is perfectly natural, but it’s good to introduce something different now and then.  It helps reduce limitations and expands the writer on the inside.

After I recorded my version of The Dangling Conversation I did some more research on the song and found a 1968 black and white film of a High School teacher reading the lyrics in the process of teaching her class poetry.  I thought it was absolutely wonderful to see that.  I love the way she saw those lyrics as pure poetry and not just a song… such a cool teacher! 

Below, is a short documentary with some of her pupils talking about memories of their English literature teacher Mrs Ashcraft and the 1968 documentary High School by Frederick Wiseman.

The Dangling Conversation is from Simon and Garfunkels Parsely, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme album.  If you’ve not heard it yet please visit You Tube for a free listen.  I have an original vinyl copy, it’s a beautiful album.

Mishmosh Poetry And Art

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I discovered this lovely lady speaking her poetry on SoundCloud some time ago.  I find her poetry inspiring and also very relaxing to listen to.  She has a huge selections of spoken word posts… these are some of her earlier posts.  Her collection of poetry will certainly keep the listener entertained for a long time.  Sit back and enjoy!

The beautiful colourful images she uses on her SoundCloud posts are all her own art.  You can find her Mishmosh Poetry and art on Facebook too.

Wedding Shoes

Kreg Steppe (CC)

It’s every little girls dream to know the feeling of importance, sophistication, and most of all, the high heeled elegance one pair of attractive shoes can deliver.

In my teens I had my share of stunning footwear, to know what it was like to effortlessly balance into infinite party hours on 41/2 inch shining pins and not flinch one bit as bones ached to be free.  I remember every beautiful pair.  But the one pair of shoes I loved most of all – were yours.

They hid in a gloomy corner at the bottom of your wardrobe, concealed by long dresses and heavy coats, never once seen on your feet.  I wondered why such pretty shoes should be condemned to shadows?

Pressing girlie feet into the toes of your divine shoes, I was Cinderella in glass slippers. Clumsy, teetering on falling, I clipped and flipped all the way from the bedroom to the kitchen, to demonstrate what you were missing.  Hands on hips, question marks in radiant eyes, I asked, “Mummy, are these your shoes?”  Your expression was a mixture of impending laughter and annoyance at the realisation of how clever your baby had become.   Hidden things would no longer be easy to keep to yourself.

You told me they were your wedding shoes.  I looked at your flat heeled sensible footwear and guessed those pretty shoes were a part of you I’d never know.  You would have liked to have told me to put them right back where I found them, but you were were too kind to say such things.

Jubilant at my discovery, I blundered my way round the house in wedding heels, wondering what kind of man I’d marry and if he… he’d like my shoes. 

I imagined living in London just like you, where traffic was never still, pavements filled with shoppers, and I… lady of the city, walked with confidence.

Just for one day, I borrowed the image of a beautiful woman I found in an old black and white photo, and walked in her shoes.

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My mother on holiday wearing those wedding shoes.

Did any of you girls clip around the house in your mothers shoes?

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of boys wearing their fathers shoes… so what is it boys do to feel like they could be their dad?


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The Snail’s CastleMark Gordon
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk

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A Return To Photography

Suzy Hazelwood (CC)

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Forty years have slipped by
and I never even noticed
once more… here my feet are

The eight year old
got lost along the way
maybe I’ll find her again… somewhere

But you stand strong
unmoved
unaged
not by a single day

I want to capture
all the magic
to be left
with a little piece of you

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This poem was inspired by the picture I captured of the carousel scene last summer.  It’s the very same carousel I took a few memorable rides on at The Pleasure Beach in my childhood years while visiting the seaside town of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk.  The photo was taken with my Samsung S4mini phone.  I was hoping to take a variety of pictures of the funfair, but arrived a little late in the season and found it was closed!  If it looks ghostly… it kind of was! 😖   I’m looking forward to visiting again this year to get some vibrant funfair pictures.

I used to do a lot of photography back in the late 80’s, it became my main hobby for several years.  I took all kinds of pictures, but I found after a while I was most interested in taking portraits.  It turned out to be what I was best at, and I got into those portraits in a big way.  I really loved making people look fabulous, it was great fun.  I wish I could show you the results, but those images are way too personal to post on my blog.  I’m sure my friends from back in the 80’s (most I’ve lost touch with now) wouldn’t be too happy with me posting their portraits online!  But I do have an album on Flickr with a small selection of some of the more general pictures I took in the 80’s and 90’s.

By the time I moved to my own home in my mid twenties, I found I never had much money left to spend on photography.   It was an expensive hobby back in those days.  I didn’t use my camera for several years, and when I finally got back to it, I discovered some deterioration.  My pictures were turning out blurred, but the thought of having to spend money I didn’t really have on a camera repair caused me to entirely lose interest.  That was the end of my photography for many years.  I have posted a few pictures previously on this blog I took with my brother’s old Cannon PowerShot A610, but now, with a new camera in my hands, I think I can finally say I’ve returned to photography, and it feels wonderful!

Although high quality cameras are still very expensive, at least the processing of images doesn’t have to be costly.  I get such a thrill out of how it costs me nothing at all to get my images looking exactly how I want them.  At the moment, I don’t use Photoshop, I use a free program called Photoscape.  Obviously the options it offers will never be as vast as Photoshop, but for fairly basic image editing, plus some creative options, it’s all I need at the moment.

This year I bought a Sony A6000.  I really liked a lot of images I’d seen online taken with Sony cameras, but never thought I could afford one, as a lot of Sony cameras are at least a £1000 or more.  I bought my Sony A6000 for less than £450.  Obviously, there were a few extras to buy, and I will probably purchase other additional lenses in the near future, but I feel I got a very good deal on that camera.  I’ve barely begun to use it… I absolutely love the results!

It’s also very compact in size and incredibly lightweight, which is very important to me, as I dislike heavy bulky cameras.  If you are looking for a small camera with professional results to take on your holidays, the Sony A6000 might be perfect for that.

I’ve posted below two galleries below.  The first group were taken with my Samsung S4mini phone.  Very pleased with the images that budget priced phone takes.  The second lot of images, I took this year with the Sony A6000.  It helps a lot to have a camera where you’re not forced to look through a view finder, it allows a lot freedom to move around at all angles.  So last week, I bought some flowers, parked them in front of my bedroom window, and got shooting.  Then moved on to my vintage books… and more flowers!  I found I’m not only improving on those little still things, I really enjoy seeing the end result.

Most of the images uploaded to my Flickr page are set to Creative Commons (non commercial).  If anyone is interested in using any of them for a blog post, they are free to use… as long as I’m credited for the image back to Flickr.  I’ve had a small selection of images used since last summer, and most bloggers have been good enough to stick to the CC licence and credit me, which is really nice to see.

(Update June 2019)  I still have a Flickr page, but I no longer use it for my new creative commons images, please see my Pexels page, where you can view all my latest photos.  Every image posted on my Pexels page is free to use under a public domain licence. (But please don’t post to wallpaper sites, or create your own wallpaper website from the images, Pexels will come after if you do, they don’t want their website duplicated.  Enjoy browsing Pexels vast collection of photography, and be creative, use the images for your own blog, social media posts or printed publications).

I would like to say a big thank you to all my WordPress photographer friends for inspiring me over the years.  I’m sure your fantastic images have done a great deal in helping me to return to a forgotten hobby,  and have also taught me lot about how to see the world through a digital camera.  Thank you so much… keep taking your awesome pictures!! 😊

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The Blue Box (Amazon)