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Conversation Among The Ruins

Sylvia Plath

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Sonnets of darkness and suggestion
Added by: Yusef Hajjar
"Conversation among the Ruins" is (I think) the earliest published Sylvia Plath poem and is quite revealing, as her ideas are not as smothered as usual by her extraordinary and distinctive style. This poem follows a classical form, the 14-line sonnet, that is "fractured" by being deprived of the sweetn rhyme scheme that we would expect from such a form, and mirrors the theme of ruin and waste in the poem - its conventional to say that about much of Plath's work. I was thinking though about the Gothic quality to this - it evokes lush and lovely things ("rich order of walls", the mythical allusion in "psyche-knot") even if it wants to show the precariousness of them and to threaten them, and as such it seems to celebrate the Beautiful. It strikes me that she gives us many grounds for hidden hope in this poem - not in the explicit content, but in the form of the penultimate words ("While you stand heroic in coat and tie, I sit
Composed in Grecian tunic and psyche-knot") and the "magic" that has taken flight has been, after all, a Witch. And talking of Shakespearian forms like sonnets, we know from "Macbeth" that Witches are not usually a good thing for relationships... :)

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