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Sylvia Plath

February 21, 2009

Nick and the Candlestick
-Sylvia Plath

    I am a miner. The light burns blue.
    Waxy stalactites
    Drip and thicken, tears

    The earthen womb

    Exudes from its dead boredom.
    Black bat airs

    Wrap me, raggy shawls,
    Cold homicides.
    They weld to me like plums.

    Old cave of calcium
    Icicles, old echoer.
    Even the newts are white,

    Those holy Joes.
    And the fish, the fish—
    Christ! They are panes of ice,

    A vice of knives,
    A piranha
    Religion, drinking

    Its first communion out of my live toes.
    The candle
    Gulps and recovers its small altitude,

    Its yellows hearten.
    O love, how did you get here?
    O embryo

    Remembering, even in sleep,
    Your crossed position.
    The blood blooms clean

    In you, ruby.
    The pain
    You wake to is not yours.

    Love, love,
    I have hung our cave with roses.
    With soft rugs—

    The last of Victoriana.
    Let the stars
    Plummet to their dark address,

    Let the mercuric
    Atoms that cripple drip
    Into the terrible well,

    You are the one
    Solid the spaces lean on, envious.
    You are the baby in the barn.


Came across this poem again today, last read it in school.
Have you ever noticed her obsession with the word “baby”? It appears in a lot of her poems and is never said in its usual context of mothering or diminutive cuteness- instead it is almost vindictive and meant to be jarring, especially in the lashing way she says it on any of her recorded readings.

Anyway, despite all that, I love this poem.
Written in her characteristically throbbing, caustic, urgent poesy–  I love “Black bat airs”, such a fantastic alliteration.

On the surface she is writing about the candle, of course, let the anal-retentive biographers record who “Nick” is. I am still captive in its waxy dripping stalactites and stars that plummet to their dark address, in this realm I am a willing candlestick miner.

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