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FOUR POEMS BY SYLVIA PLATH

Set by John Mitchell (1941-), op. 104 (2000)
Texts by Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)



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1. Morning Song morning.mp3  
 Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
 The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
 Took its place among the elements.

 Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.
 In a drafty museum, your nakedness
 Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.

 I'm no more your mother
 Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow
 Effacement at the wind's hand.

 All night your moth-breath
 Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:
 A far sea moves in my ear.

 One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral
 In my Victorian nightgown.
 Your mouth opens clean as a cat's. The window square

 Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try
 Your handful of notes;
 The clear vowels rise like balloons.


2. The Couriers couriers.mp3 
 The word of a snail on the plate of a leaf?
 It is not mine. Do not accept it.

 Acetic acid in a sealed tin?
 Do not accept it. It is not genuine.

 A ring of gold with the sun in it?
 Lies. Lies and a grief.

 Frost on a leaf, the immaculate
 Cauldron, talking and crackling

 All to itself on the top of each
 Of nine black Alps.

 A disturbance in mirrors,
 The sea shattering its grey one ----

 Love, love, my season.


3. Sheep in Fog sheep.mp3 
 The hills step off into whiteness.
 People or stars
 Regard me sadly, I disappoint them.

 The train leaves a line of breath.
 O slow
 Horse the colour of rust,

 Hooves, dolorous bells ----
 All morning the
 Morning has been blackening,

 A flower left out.
 My bones hold a stillness, the far
 Fields melt my heart.

 They threaten
 To let me through to a heaven
 Starless and fatherless, a dark water.


4.The Applicant applicant.mp3 
 First, are you our sort of a person?
 Do you wear
 A glass eye, false teeth or a crutch,
 A brace or a hook,
 Rubber breasts or a rubber crotch,

 Stitches to show something's missing? No, no? Then
 How can we give you a thing?
 Stop crying.
 Open your hand.
 Empty? Empty. Here is a hand

 To fill it and willing
 To bring teacups and roll away headaches
 And do whatever you tell it.
 Will you marry it?
 It is guaranteed

 To thumb shut your eyes at the end
 And dissolve of sorrow.
 We make new stock from the salt.
 I notice you are stark naked.
 How about this suit----

 Black and stiff, but not a bad fit.
 Will you marry it?
 It is waterproof, shatterproof, proof
 Against fire and bombs through the roof.
 Believe me, they'll bury you in it.

 Now your head, excuse me, is empty.
 I have the ticket for that.
 Come here, sweetie, out of the closet.
 Well, what do you think of that ?
 Naked as paper to start

 But in twenty-five years she'll be silver,
 In fifty, gold.
 A living doll, everywhere you look.
 It can sew, it can cook,
 It can talk, talk , talk.

 It works, there is nothing wrong with it.
 You have a hole, it's a poultice.
 You have an eye, it's an image.
 My boy, it's your last resort.
 Will you marry it, marry it, marry it.

                                                                        
      
                                                                                             
                                                                                               
                                                                                                      
           

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