Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Ghost's Leavetaking

 Enter the chilly no-man's land of about
 Five o'clock in the morning, the no-color void
 Where the waking head rubbishes out the draggled lot
 Of sulfurous dreamscapes and obscure lunar conundrums
 Which seemed, when dreamed, to mean so profoundly much,

 Gets ready to face the ready-made creation
 Of chairs and bureaus and sleep-twisted sheets.
 This is the kingdom of the fading apparition,
 The oracular ghost who dwindles on pin-legs
 To a knot of laundry, with a classic bunch of sheets

 Upraised, as a hand, emblematic of farewell.
 At this joint between two worlds and two entirely
 Incompatible modes of time, the raw material
 Of our meat-and-potato thoughts assumes the nimbus
 Of ambrosial revelation. And so departs.
 Chair and bureau are the hieroglyphs
 Of some godly utterance wakened heads ignore:
 So these posed sheets, before they thin to nothing,
 Speak in sign language of a lost otherworld,
 A world we lose by merely waking up.
 Trailing its telltale tatters only at the outermost
 Fringe of mundane vision, this ghost goes
 Hand aloft, goodbye, goodbye, not down
 Into the rocky gizzard of the earth,
 But toward a region where our thick atmosphere

 Diminishes, and God knows what is there.
 A point of exclamation marks that sky
 In ringing orange like a stellar carrot.
 Its round period, displaced and green,
 Suspends beside it the first point, the starting
 Point of Eden, next the new moon's curve.
 Go, ghost of our mother and father, ghost of us,
 And ghost of our dreams' children, in those sheets
 Which signify our origin and end,
 To the cloud-cuckoo land of color wheels
 And pristine alphabets and cows that moo
 And moo as they jump over moons as new
 As that crisp cusp towards which you voyage now.
 Hail and farewell. Hello, goodbye. O keeper
 Of the profane grail, the dreaming skull.

Sylvia Plath


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