Monday, December 5, 2011

English Interlude

Today in compulsory reading I've drawn Samuel Beckett's Endgame, but I also did a Ted Hughes poem, which is more excerptable.

I don't necessarily like Ted Hughes poems, and the fact that he is connected to Sylvia Plath and her suicide makes him feel like he's a steely, cruel, freezing-rain kind of presence. But this poem about Plath and Daffodils, called "Daffodils," is warmer, and though the surface message--stop and smell the daffodils--is familiar, I think he's really talking about the naive feeling that we'll be able to accomplish something over and over again, that we'll keep repeating good times, and have, in a term I coined the other day, Wednesdays that are Neverendsdays.

The plot of the poem is this: Hughes and Plath are picking daffodils (a classic and parodied British poetry trope--This response is written by a guy named David Martin, not me). But instead of musing about their beauty or engaging in other Romantic drifts, Hughes and Plath sell them:

"[. . .] Besides, we still weren't sure we wanted to own
Anything. Mainly we were hungry
To convert everything to profit.
Still nomads--still strangers
To our whole possession. The daffodils
Were incidental gilding of the deeds,
Treasure trove. They simply came,
And they kept on coming.
As if not from the sod but falling from heaven.

Our lives were still a raid on our own good luck.
We knew we'd live for ever. We had not learned
What a fleeting glance of the everlasting
Daffodils are. Never identified
The nuptial flight of the rarest ephemera--
Our own days!
We thought they were a windfall.
Never guessed they were a last blessing
So we sold them [. . .]

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