Wandering the aisles at a local flea market treasure found, a 1965 edition of Ariel by Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) published by Harper & Row two years after her death by suicide.

I flip the small book open to an arbitrary page (#41) and here is ‘The Moon and The Yew Tree‘, the last Off The Shelf poem for 2016. I’d love to hear what you think, your reactions, what feelings or memories the piece evokes …

THE MOON AND THE YEW TREE

This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary.
The trees of the mind are black. The light is blue.
The grasses unload their griefs on my feet as if I were God,
Prickling my ankles and murmuring of their humility.
Fumy, spiritous mists inhabit this place
Separated from my house by a row of headstones.
I simply cannot see where there is to get to.

The moon is no door. It is a face in its own right,
White as a knuckle and terribly upset.
It drags the sea after it like a dark crime; it is quiet
With the O-gape of complete despair. I live here.
Twice on Sunday, the bells startle the sky —
Eight great tongues affirming the Resurrection.
At the end, they soberly bong out their names.

The yew tree points up. It has a Gothic shape.
The eyes lift after it and find the moon.
The moon is my mother. She is not sweet like Mary.
Her blue garments unloose small bats and owls.
How I would like to believe in tenderness —
The face of the effigy, gentled by candles,
Bending, on me in particular, its mild eyes.

I have fallen a long way. Clouds are flowering
Blue and mystical over the face of the stars.
Inside the church, the saints will be all blue,
Floating on their delicate feet over the cold pews,
Their hands and faces stiff with holiness.
The moon sees nothing of this. She is bald and wild.
And the message of the yew tree is blackness – blackness and silence.

9780571236091-us-300Restored Edition @ Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN: 9780060732592
ISBN 10: 0060732598
Imprint: Harper

Other “Off the Shelf” Selections