Friday, 7 December 2012

Advent Women 4


The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna
Are not very pure or true.
With my gipsy ancestress and my weird luck
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
I may be a bit of a Jew.

I have always been scared of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
And your neat mustache
And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You-- 

Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that, no not 
Any less the black man who

Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.

But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look

And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I'm finally through.
The black telephone's off at the root,
The voices just can't worm through.

If I've killed one man, I've killed two--
The vampire who said he was you
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.

There's a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through.
from 'Daddy' by Sylvia Plath

No one matches Plath for emotional distress. I'm still reading Birthday Letters, one a day. It should probably be classified under 'horror'. It's like a groundhog day of repeated self-violence, a scratched record that jars continually on the note of a scream. Plath's father died just before her 8th birthday following complications after an amputation of his foot, after unrecognised diabetes. Still, as a figure, a figure of death, he looms through Hughes' as well as Plath's work. This last week of mine has been characterized by death and grief for various reasons. It is of course the cold weather but Advent seems to bring the most incongruous combinations of events and emotions together: consuming parties of over-indulgence in a penitential season, the formality of carol services set against the kitsch of decorations and the innocence of nativity plays performed on the barely-cleared floors of funerals and wakes. It makes sense though. Advent ends in birth and it looks towards the end of time. It is the season of life and death.


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