The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath - Sylvia Plath - dokument [*.epub] Table of Contents Title Page PUBLISHER'S NOTE PREFACE JOURNAL - July. Sylvia Plath () was an American poet, novelist and short Plath, Sylvia - Unabridged Journals, (Anchor, ).epub. Get this from a library! The unabridged journals of Sylvia Plath, [ Sylvia Plath; Karen V Kukil] -- Presents the complete journals of twentieth-century .
|Language:||English, Spanish, Portuguese|
|ePub File Size:||21.81 MB|
|PDF File Size:||16.35 MB|
|Distribution:||Free* [*Register to download]|
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia echecs16.info Karen V. Kukil; Sylvia echecs16.info File, Pages, 7 MB. The complete Journals of Sylvia Plath is essential reading for all who have been moved Скачать эту книгу (k) в формате: fb2, lrf, epub, mobi, txt, html. Sylvia Plath speaks for herself in this unabridged edition of her journals. She began keeping diaries and journals at the age of eleven and continued this practice.
Look Inside. Oct 17, Pages download. Dec 18, Pages download. Oct 17, Pages. Dec 18, Pages.
Advanced Search Find a Library. Your list has reached the maximum number of items. Please create a new list with a new name; move some items to a new or existing list; or delete some items. Your request to send this item has been completed.
APA 6th ed. Citations are based on reference standards. However, formatting rules can vary widely between applications and fields of interest or study. The specific requirements or preferences of your reviewing publisher, classroom teacher, institution or organization should be applied. The E-mail Address es field is required. Please enter recipient e-mail address es. The E-mail Address es you entered is are not in a valid format.
Please re-enter recipient e-mail address es. You may send this item to up to five recipients. The name field is required. Please enter your name. The E-mail message field is required. Please enter the message. Please verify that you are not a robot. Would you also like to submit a review for this item? You already recently rated this item. Your rating has been recorded. Write a review Rate this item: Preview this item Preview this item. The unabridged journals of Sylvia Plath, Author: New York: Anchor Books, Presents the complete journals of twentieth-century American author Sylvia Plath, from to , transcribed from her original manuscripts.
Show all links. Allow this favorite library to be seen by others Keep this favorite library private. Find a copy in the library Finding libraries that hold this item Electronic books Diaries Named Person: Biography, Document, Internet resource Document Type: Sylvia Plath Karen V Kukil.
Reviews User-contributed reviews Add a review and share your thoughts with other readers. What do you do if you see an accident? You try to fix him up. That's all you do to your guys in war. It's not so different. You want to be worldly. You remember Eddie's letters. You ask with impersonal gravity, "Have you had many women? You think vaguely of a marriage proposal. How lovely - he has become captivated by your keen and sympathetic mind.
You are sick. He is damn strong. His arms and hands are pushing you down. You roll in the pine needles. You are scared. You think: This is one time your innocence won't help you; you're done. But then you're on top, shaking him, your hair falling in your face.
He has relaxed. He's listening to the words pouring out. Damn you. Just because you're a boy. Just because you're never worried about having babies! You trail off. You sound ridiculous. You are playing a part. You want him, yet you remember: Getting drunk and trusting a damn girl.
You get up and start walking to the path. The pine branches snap underfoot. It is black and strange. He is sitting over there on a stump, head in hands, muttering, or crying. You approach and kneel penitently before him. You kiss. He takes your hand, pulls it along. You touch soft, writhing flesh. You scream in a quick indrawn breath. So this is what it's like to have a boy want you to masturbate him. You pull away, disgusted, yet not disgusted. Lightening hasn't struck you.
It's only He realizes now, maybe, that you are only a kid, only eighteen. So you go back to the fraternity house. You know that you won't go out with him again if he asks.
But you will never take a walk. You will never be alone. And you hate him because he has deprived you of that: And you hate him because he is a boy. And you won't see him if he asks again. What is my life for and what am I going to do with it? I don't know and I'm afraid. I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want.
I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones, and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life. And I am horribly limited. Yet I am not a cretin: I am not a veteran, passing my legless, armless days in a wheelchair. I am not that mongoloidish old man shuffling out of the gates of the mental hospital.
I have much to live for, yet unaccountably I am sick and sad. Perhaps you could trace my feeling back to my distaste at having to choose between alternatives. Perhaps that's why I want to be everyone - so no one can blame me for being I. So I won't have to take the responsibility for my own character development and philosophy. People are happy - - - if that means being content with your lot: I am not content, because my lot is limiting, as are all others. People specialize; people become devoted to an idea; people "find themselves.
Admittedly some people live more than others. Would it not be in color, rather than black-and-white, or more gray? I think it would. And thus, I not being them, could try to be more like them: I don't believe in God as a kind father in the sky.
I don't believe that the meek will inherit the earth: The meek get ignored and trampled. They decompose in the bloody soil of war, of business, of art, and they rot into the warm ground under the spring rains. It is the bold, the loud-mouthed, the cruel, the vital, the revolutionaries, the mighty in arms and will, who march over the soft patient flesh that lies beneath their cleated boots.
I don't believe there is life after death in the literal sense. I don't believe my individual ego or spirit is unique and important enough to wake up after burial and soar to bliss and pink clouds in heaven.
If we leave the body behind as we must, we are nothing. All that makes me different from Betty Grable is my skin, my mind, my time and my environment. All that separates me from being Thomas Mann is that I was born in America, and not in his home town of Lubeck; that I am a girl, he a man; that he was inheritor of a particular set of glands and a lump of brain tissue which are tuned differently from mine.
He is different now. But he will die. Sinclair Lewis died: Sinclair is now slowly decomposing in his tomb. The spark went out; the hand that wrote, the optical and auditory nerves that recorded, the brain folds that recreated - - - all are limp, flaccid, rotting now. Edna St. Vincent Millay is dead - and she will never push the dirt from her tomb and see the apple-scented rain in slanting silver lines, never.
George Bernard Shaw is dead - and the wit has been snuffed out, the light is gone. Do vegetarians rot more rapidly than meat-eaters? But they left something - and other people will feel part of what they felt. But you can never recreate completely, and they are dead. The human mind is so limited it can only build an arbitrary heaven - and usually the physical comforts they endow it with are naively the kind that can be perceived as we humans perceive - nothing more. I think not. I think I will be snuffed out.
Black is sleep; black is a fainting spell; and black is death, with no light, no waking. And how I bleed for all the individuals on the battle fields - who thought "I am I, and I know this, that there is dying with no one knowing. To have your mind broken, and the contents evaporated, gone. For with the record of images we have ingrained in our heads, all goes and is nothing.
Antoine St. Exupery once mourned the loss of a man and the secret treasures that he held inside him. I loved Exupery; I will read him again, and he will talk to me, not being dead, or gone.
Is that life after death - mind living on paper and flesh living in offspring? I do not know. Because it is impossible for me to be God - or the universal woman-and-man - or anything much.
I am what I feel and think and do. I want to express my being as fully as I can because I somewhere picked up the idea that I could justify my being alive that way.
But if I am to express what I am, I must have a standard of life, a jumping-off place, a technique - to make arbitrary and temporary organization of my own personal and pathetic little chaos.
I am just beginning to realize how false and provincial that standard, or jumping-off place, must be. That is what is so hard for me to face. They're really going to mash the world up this time, the damn fools. When I read that description of the victims of Nagasaki I was sick: It got lighter and we could see that it was humans, their skin burned off, and their bodies broken where they had been thrown against something.
God save us from doing that again. For the United States did that. Our guilt. My country. No, never again. And then one reads in the papers "Second bomb blast in Nevada bigger than the first! Why do we electrocute men for murdering an individual and then pin a purple heart on them for mass slaughter of someone arbitrarily labeled "enemy? And now.
What could we do with the Russian nation if we bombed it to bits? How could we "rule" such a mass of foreign people - - - we, who don't even speak the Russian language?
How could we control them under our "democratic" system, we, who even now are losing that precious commodity, freedom of speech?
Crockett," that dear man, was questioned by the town board. A supposedly "enlightened" community. All he is is a pacifist. That, it seems, is a crime. Why do we send the pride of our young men overseas to be massacred for three dirty miles of nothing but earth?
Korea was never divided into "North" and "South. Freedom is not of use to those who do not know how to employ it. When I think of that little girl on the farm talking about her brother - "And he said all they can think of over there is killing those God-damn Koreans. Of lizard-like humans crawling up a hillside? All she knows is movies and school room gossip. Oh, America's young, strong. So is Russia. And how they can think of atom-bombing each other, I don't know. What will be left?
War will come some day now, with all the hothead leaders and articles "What If Women are Drafted? This country has a lot, but we're not always right and pure. And what of the veterans of the first and second world wars? The maimed, the crippled. What good their lives? They rot in the hospitals, and we forget them. I could love a Russian boy - and live with him.
It's the living, the eating, the sleeping that everyone needs. Ideas don't matter so much after all. My three best friends are Catholic. I can't see their beliefs, but I can see the things they love to do on earth.
When you come right down to it, I do believe in the freedom of the individual - but to kill off all the ones who could forge a strong nation? How foolish! Of what good - living and freedom without home, without family, without all that makes life? I believe that there are people who think as I do, who have thought as I do, who will think as I do. There are those who will live, unconscious of me, but continuing my attitude, so to speak, as I continue, unknowingly, the similar attitude of those before me.
I could write and write. All it takes is a motion of the hand in response to a brain impulse, trained from childhood to record in our own American brand of hieroglyphics the translations of external stimuli.
How much of my brain is wilfully my own? How much is not a rubber stamp of what I have read and heard and lived? Sure, I make a sort of synthesis of what I come across, but that is all that differentiates me from another person?
That my environment and a chance combination of genes got me where I am? Can Smith help me? By opening more opportunities for aim and achievement than I could reach if I went anywhere else.
Perhaps not more opportunities, but different sorts of opportunities, and, by hazard, more desirable ones. So what remains for me now? To throw up my hands at my inevitable narrowness? Remember about the shadow of past knowledge. Write about your own experience.
By that experience someone else may be a bit richer some day. Read widely of others experiences in thought and action - stretch to others even though it hurts and strains and would be more comfortable to snuggle back in the comforting cotton-wool of blissful ignorance! Hurl yourself at goals above your head and bear the lacerations that come when you slip and make a fool of yourself. Try always, as long as you have breath in your body, to take the hard way, the Spartan way - and work, work, work to build yourself into a rich, continually evolving entity!
It is about time to begin again to write here, firmly resolved as I always am at each new attempt to be as honest and neat as possible about the rather nebulous thinking processes I go through on paper. I am again at a loss as to where to begin. But I think I shall tell you about Dick" for a little while. Because I sit here at my desk as usual. Someone shuffles in slippers down the hall, singing. Doors close. The kerchief around my head presses the hard knobs of rag curlers into my scalp.
It is very hot, and the radiator breathes steam. So I open the window a little. Listen to me: There are a few times when out of the marble-and-mud that is life there is one layer of solid marble.
There are a few times when the songs that are written, the poems that are written, the plays that are written, come alive. By accident you fall onto a stage-set put aside for a tragedy for the lesser gods, and you utter words that were in the script written in the leaves and in the grass for some heroic cast. All boys and girls go to dances; We did. All boys and girls are lovely in youth and adolescence; we were.
Dancing together was not low or degrading. There was something there in each of us, behind the immaculate black tux, behind the bare shouldered white gown - - - something that made the mutual electric, drowsy magnetism of yes and no, of plus and minus, of black and white, of he and she unutterably right.
No explanations needed. Walking back alone in the raw March wind, we passed the streets, full of taxis, waiting, waiting, empty, empty. Then the road was bare and windswept, and the air was like gulps of cold water as it blew across our mouths. Street lights chiseled out clear areas of light out of dark.
My hair whipped back in the wind, and the white circle of net billowed and hushed and shushed about my silver feet. Stride and stride and stride and stride. Freely walking, hand in hand. No people; no parties; no warmth; no blur of lights, voices, flesh, wine. Two of us, strong and together along the streets.
Stride and stride. Then stop. Heads tilted back to the stars.
Words, now, about the legends, and lines ran around the sky drawing in Orion and The Big and Little Bear. Then quiet, growing loud and louder, more loudly than a roaring sea, pressing in, in, in.
Dry leaves made a rattling against the gutter like dead peas in a pod. The wind rushed by and by and ever by. Words again. Dissect your sentence, oh professors! Point out verb and noun and participial phrase. Dry, dry, the word; creaking dry; hissing dry and imperfectly low. Dissect the word "church", oh men with dictionnaries in hand.
Tell how it means "a building for public worship, esp. But no, I laugh at you all even as I listen. A kiss, then. Kisses are given and received. There are kisses given by mothers to their children, by lovers to their sweethearts, by men on the street to their prostitutes.
A meeting of the lips. That is all, animal as we are, that is our own particular generic peculiarity. And yet, without being vague and star-eyed, I may say that a kiss may be a physical symbol of a mental adoration.
That, and a delight. For brought up as we are in the custom and moral conscience of our tribe and era, we think and talk about kisses. We are not blind spores or plus and minus strains of bread mold meeting. We have a cold gray lump of tissue beneath the cartilige in our cranium, and if a reaction is ingrained deeply enough, our nerve impulses are blocked in accordance with the nature of our conditioning. So when reason rebels not, harmony is reached between the brain impulse and the endocrine glands.
A kiss. Once new and sweetly. Then stairs, and I said nothing. Not "Goodbye-I-had-a-lovely-time. I sat in a wicker chair under the lights, and he went down; the door clicked shut; the quiet was heavy with the sleep of people in the other rooms. I stared long at the stair railing, brown varnished and peeling.
The light threw a barred shadow on the pale green wall. I got up and went about the tedious business of undressing, of putting white cloth shapes in neat piles, of undoing filmy brown nylon, of letting stiff white net slip to the floor, of running water and putting soap on wash-cloth on face and arms and neck.
The cat scratched claws on the chair. I patted the fur, holding the warm animal against my bare breast, where it purred for a little.
Then bed, and again the luxury of dark. Still the blood and flesh of me were electric and singing quietly. But it ebbed and ebbed and dark and sleep and oblivion came and came, surging, surging, surging inward, lapping and drowning with no-name, no-identity, none at all.
Just nothing, yet the seeds of awakening and life slumbered there in the dark. Some sleep is like a pile of garbage, with egg shells jagged, and vermin swarming over lurid orange peels, coffee grounds and sick wan lettuce leaves; that is the sleep of nightmare fragments, when the operation or the exam is coming the next day.
Some sleep is bleak and gray, sparing with its calm and soothing treatment; that is the sleep of the worker, when each day is like the last and the next, and all time is present.
But there are sleeps that are born of spring and of the slumbering hibernation of bears in leaf-hushed caves. My ears caught the twitter of birds, strange and early. My shut eyelids felt sun, and my nose smelled earth, and my skin felt warm wind. Eyes closed, body not yet mine, but still part of something - of air, of earth, of fire, of water. I opened my eyes and pulled my body to me again.
Leaning on an elbow, there was the window open, the curtains blowing in the Saturday wind, and the sunlight and shadow sharp and clear on the building across the street. To lie and regret the emergence from the womb as the umbilical cord is snipped, neatly, and the knot tied. To regret, regret, and know that the next move will be to arise, to walk to the toilet, one foot after another, to sit on the seat, sleepily, releasing the bright yellow stream of urine, yawning, and undoing rags from brown hair and curls.
To get up, brush teeth, wash face, and begin again, in the merciless daylight, all the rituals of dressing that our culture subscribes to. A bikeride begins in afternoon sunlight on a Saturday. There is the familiar feeling of hands gripping handlebars, feet circling on pedals, thin tires turning over pavement with a humming that transfers itself in a tantalizing motion through the end of your spine along the marrow of your bones.
You spin across a bridge, and the whir of tires takes on a lower more vibrant note as you ride on the grill-work, with green water staring at you from under the open places.
The road knots up and around a hill or two and then there is the rock: So you hoist the bike over a fence, and walk it up the rutted mud path, flanked by stands of oak and pine.
On the right: Lake Saltonstall," blue and flat in the sun. On the left: Sneakers, biting into treacherous cushions of last year's dead and pale brown leaves. Cold wind gnawing at the open spaces, and at the thin blue dungarees flapping about your legs.
There was a time of sitting on a rock to rest, with the shadow of the night coming on from behind, and casting the hill-shadow on the lake, now muted to a dull secretive gray. Colder air, and a consciousness of lateness insinuated blades of ice into the mind and flesh.
At last then, a paved road. Singing down on uncontrolled wheels; the first hill ricocheted to a stop and calmed down into even slopes of highway. We chased the sunset, a smoky pink flag ahead beyond the city. The night chased us in a carbon-colored tide spreading across the sky behind, with street lights stabbing periods of light like banners, beacons, following two fugitives. The streets were friendly then, and the web of home knit tighter about us as we wheeled to a stop before the dormitory.
Feet frozen, aching against pavement. Eyes blurred with wind-tears.
Cheeks burned red from cold air slashing at them. And there we were. The roller coaster of the afternoon ended just as you thought you'd never make it up the highest logo. Perchance to eat, perchance to sleep No, you don't. It's a play now, and you don't have time to change to aqua dress, gold shoes and Reggie's fur coat.
You walk down the aisles, among sleek black taffeta dresses, dangling crystal earrings, bare shoulders and high heels - only you have your old black jersey and red skirt on, and you carry his old khaki jacket. Do you shrink inward and want to melt into the plush floor carpet? Ah, no, not at all. You walk down proudly, laughing into all faces, laughter filling all the cracks in your self assurance like plaster. You are happy and proud to have him sit beside you, laugh with you, and hold your hand once.
When you are young, what does it matter if you forget and leave your diamond tiara on the bureau back home? When you are old, there will be time enough to worry about that. Now I am surely becoming an incurable romantic. But please, hear me out. After the play we walked out, breaking from the crowd that pushed out in knots of people up the aisles, raveling at the exit-signs. Another cold black March night. So I said to myself, unassuming creature that I am, "he-was-being-chivalrous-last-night-because-it-was-traditional-to-kiss-date-after-dance.
He turned our steps across the street to the Chem Lab. I sat on a fence post, looking over the field to the road below and beyond. Lights blinked yellow white, and cars moved and scurried to and fro.
I felt what the 19th century romantics must have felt: The extension of the soul into the realm of nature. I felt that my feet were growing into the hill, and that I was a jutting outgrowth of the elements He stood in back of me, hands on my shoulders, and the wind broke against him as I sat in the shelter of his upright body.
Then we walked out to the crest of the field, wading through the grass, arm in arm. The wind blew my hair back and whipped tears into my eyes as the two of us stood facing each other. Walking back, we talked about ourselves - conversation not to be reproduced - but I remember laughing as he said he had been wary of asking me down and a bit bitter because of my "popularity. So we stood outside, and he was softspoken and touched his lips to mine once sweetly as Chuck came out the door.
I said good night to the two boys, and went upstairs alone. What is more tedious than boy-girl episodes? Nothing; yet there is no tedium that will be recorded so eternally. Eve baited Adam back in the dark ages, but it is the tragedy of man to die and be born again, and with each new birth the cycle begins all over again.
Variations on a theme. Yet the other night I felt a preview of myself ten years hence breathe down my neck with a chilly whisper. The two of us were "babysitting" at his house this Friday, and younger brother" had been allowed to stay up till we came. The parents left, and we went upstairs to the bedroom where a small vociferous boy bounced eagerly during the reading of some A. Milne poems by older brother.
Then the light was turned out, and in the quiet, older b. Yours truly sat on the bottom of the bed, partly a stranger, wanting to be loved by the little one, touched when he asked her to stay and keep him company. Then it was time to leave him to sleep. The man got up and left. He had no identity, but as his back loomed dark in the light cracking in through the open door, he was the Man who would be the chosen one to father children and I was the Mate, bending last over the bed, whispering a little word into my son's ear as I closed the door.
But in the light, downstairs, I was Sylvia and he was himself, and there was the sea between us again. I said there was a "sea. There was only a cushion, and a tray of icecream and cookies. But it served, it served. After this charming little bouquet of idyllic description I will be earthy and matter-of-fact. I will say that I hated bobby pins and buttons when I was little. I liked the clean quick flash of zippers, but despized the round, fingered little objects on shirts and sweaters.
I ran away screaming when a woman bent cooingly over a baby-carriage and crooned "My, what a dear little button-nose your baby has! I would not touch them. Once, on the day I was going home from the hospital after having my tonsils out, a woman in my ward asked me to carry some bobby pins to the lady in the next bed. Revolted, I held out a stiff unwilling hand, flinching as the cold clammy little pins touched my skin. They were cold and shiny, as with grease, and sickeningly suggestive of warmth and disgusting, intimate contact with dirty hair.
March 29th - Thursday. Some people have to have silence and peace when they write. I am in a bad position, looking at writing from the point of view of celestial inspiration. My fat fleshy grandmother sits in the corner, breathing loudly, sewing on the coat I will wear tomorrow. The ice box clicks and whirrs. From the downstairs bathroom comes the bristly sound of my brother brushing his teeth.
If I were going to be realistic, I would not say much more than "It looks like an add of the middle-middle class home. I don't care too much that the rug in the dining room is blueflowered and has the threads showing where the chairs are scraped across it, or that the chair seats, once shining maroon with satin stripe, are now darkened and greasy with food stains.
It's funny, but now I'm home, and no matter how many mansions I will see, I won't care about the shabbiness of this dear little house. For I feel a great equanimity about peoples opinions, now. I don't care any more about the handsome wealthy boys who come gingerly into the living room to take out the girl they thought would look nice in an evening cocktail dress I said I wanted to go out with them to meet new people.
I ask you, what logic is there in that? What guy you would like, would see the depths in a girl outwardly like all the other physical american queenies?
So why go places with guys you can't talk to? You'll never meet a soul that way - - - not the sort you want to meet. Better to stay in your garret reading than to go from one party to another.
Face it, kid: You've got to be able to talk. That's tough.
But spend your nights learning, so you'll have something to say. Something the "attractive intelligent man" will want to listen to.
All this preamble above , and what I really wanted to get down before I head off to New York was more like this:. An open letter: I won't call you darling; that would be cute. And I'm not being cute, not tonight. I wanted to tell you how you are beginning to be the one I can talk to. I have always talked: More often to myself. But suddenly, with the need to take a concrete human being for a confidante, I build my framework of a world around you.
I don't write this to you, because it is not time. I may never tell you, and, in years, I may not need to, because you might become part of my life - - - physically and mentally Perry said today that his mother said "Girls look for infinite security; boys look for a mate. Both look for different things. In other words, I must pour my energies through the direction and force of my mate.
My only free act is choosing or refusing that mate. And yet, it is as I feared: I am becoming adjusted and accustomed to that idea. And if I could be your companion I would laugh at those previous fears. I like what you heighten in me. And I am amazed that I, so proud and distainful of custom, could consider marriage an honorable and vital estate.
But under certain circumstances I do justly consider it that. Tonight I went to a hen party. I will tell about that later.
I want to talk about getting the bus home, and my walk down from Weston road, and what I talked about to myself on the way to this room, this chair, this instant, which is gone, even as my pen scratches the first "i. There is a certain unique and strange delight about walking down an empty street alone. There is an off-focus light cast by the moon, and the streetlights are part of the spotlight apparatus on a bare stage set up for you to walk through.
You get a feeling of being listened to, so you talk aloud, softly, to see how it sounds:. I am walking down this street and I am being propelled by a force too powerful for me to break because eighteen years of walking down streets had chained me to the inevitable action of going from one place to another and always repeating the circle or line and returning home without stopping or wondering I am woven into a snug automatic cocoon of flesh-and-blood I am standing still and my feet have stopped clicking I will assert myself feebly and approach from a less frequented path Let me come in and suck your life and sorrow from you as a leech sucks blood; let me gorge myself on your sensations and ideas and dreams; let me crawl inside your guts and your cranium and live like a tapeworm for a while, draining your life substance into myself I think I could be strangled by those shadows I am part man, and I notice women's breasts and thighs with the calculation of a man choosing a mistress I desire the things which will destroy me in the end I wonder if art divorced from normal and conventional living is as vital as art combined with living: Am I strong enough to do both well?
That is the crux of the matter, and I hope to steel myself for the test Notes on an experimental film: Next scene: Man bicycling with box around neck Man and woman watch from window Woman enters room And so I will write to you a few lines that came during class on Monday after your visit, after I said things to you that I should not have said, and so, here it is:.
Outside it is warm and blue and April. And I have to digest Darwin, Marx, and Wagner. I'd like to rip out my brain and set it to assimilating the printed hieroglyphics in this book, and send my body down to the tennis courts in animal imbecility to jerk muscles in proper coordination and feel only the bestial and sensuous delight of sun on skin.
Indecision and reveries are the anesthetics of constructive action. When I was small, days and hours were long and spacious, and there was play and acres of leisure, and many children's books to read. I remember that as I was writing a poem on "Snow" when I was eight. I said aloud, "I wish I could have the ability to write down the feelings I have now while I'm still little, because when I grow up I will know how to write, but I will have forgotten what being little feels like.
As we become polished, so do we become hardened and guilty of accepting eating, sleeping, seeing, and hearing too easily and lazily, without question. We become blunt and callous and blissfully passive as each day adds another drop to the stagnant well of our years. For future reference:.
I have the choice of being constantly active and happy or introspectively passive and sad. Or I can go mad by ricocheting in between. Written, as usual, in the tense and crucial interval when I should be studying for a Botany exam:. Blue-painted and metallic animal,. They have made their cities.
Wet blows the wind. The mindless April leaves heave sighs. Across the street carpenters hammer on roof:. Mental nausea of daily squash.
Open windows in the art studio," and the mercuric twinkling April air flows in across the desks and laps about my ankles. Spring is in the pink and lavendar paint stains on the floor; in the pink and orange neck of the girl in front of me; in the crooked part in her yellow hair, drawn back into two uncombed blonde braids; in the easy stride of the thin blackhaired man in the light gray suit, walking down below on the pale pink sidewalk.
April It is fortunate, fortunate indeed that this man called Cohen" stands on the lecture platform, and that his nasal voice crackles against my eardrums, and that his words and his astringent wit trickle down the cerebral creases of my understanding. It is fortunate, fortunate indeed, that pictures of old movie stills are flashed upon the twilit screen to lacquer the retina of my eye which notates, around the edge, the dim heads and the murmurs of these girls. One girl looks around; the planes of her shaded face advance and recede again behind her hair.
I am I, with all the individuality of an earthworm. After a rain, who knows the unique pink worm by the twist of its elastic segments. Only the guts of the worm know. And it is nothing to crush the yellow liquid intestines under a casual heel. When he bends over the microscope before you, you trace the purple clusters of capillaries under the coarse porousness of his skin, striped with short bristly hairs and rutted where loose creases swing flabbily from his neck and jowls.
June 15, The rain comes down again, on the indecently big green leaves, and there is the wet hiss of drops splashing and puckering the flat veined vegetable surfaces. Although the rain is neutral, although the rain is impersonal, it becomes for me a haunting and nostalgic sound. The still air of the house smells of warm stagnant human flesh and of onions, and I sit, back to the radiator, the metal ribs of it pressing against my shoulders. I am in my old room once more, for a little, and I am caught in musing - - how life is a swift motion, a continuous flowing, changing, and how one is always saying goodbye and going places, seeing people, doing things.
Only in the rain, sometimes, only when the rain comes, closing in your pitifully small radius of activity, only when you sit and listen by the window, as the cold wet air blows thinly by the back of your neck - only then do you think and feel sick. You feel the days slipping by, elusive as slippery pink worms, through your fingers, and you wonder what you have for your eighteen years, and you think about how, with difficulty and concentration, you could bring back a day, a day of sun, blue skies and watercoloring by the sea.
You could remember the sensual observations that made that day reality, and you could delude yourself into thinking - almost - that you could return to the past, and relive the days and hours in a quick space of time. But no, the quest of time past is more difficult than you think, and time present is eaten up by such plaintive searchings. The film of your days and nights is wound up tight in you, never to be re-run - and the occasional flashbacks are faint, blurred, unreal, as if seen through falling snow.
Now, you begin to get scared. You don't believe in God, or a life-after-death, so you can't hope for sugar plums when your non-existent soul rises. You believe that whatever there is has got to come from man, and man is pretty creative in his good moments - pretty mature, pretty perceptive for his age - how many years is it, now? How many thousands?
Yet, yet in this era of specialization, of infinite variety and complexity and myriad choices, what do you pick for yourself out of the grab-bag?
Cats have nine lives, the saying goes. You have one; and somewhere along the thin, tenuous thread of your existence there is the black knot, the blood clot, the stopped heartbeat that spells the end of this particular individual which is spelled "I" and "You" and "Sylvia. In the relativism and despair, in the waiting for the bombs to begin, for the blood now spurting in Korea, in Germany, in Russia to flow and trickle before your own eyes, you wonder with a quick sick fear how to cling to earth, to the seeds of grass and life.
You wonder about your eighteen years, ricocheting between a stubborn determination that you've done well for your own capabilities and opportunities Again the refrain, what have you for your eighteen years? And you know that whatever tangible things you do have, they cannot be held, but, too, will decompose and slip away through your coarse-skinned and death-rigid fingers. So you will rot in the ground, and so you say, what the hell? Who cares? And end in 25 words or less.
You want to live as many lives as you can You cover up, so you can still laugh at yourself while there's time. And then you think of the flesh-and-blood people you know, and wonder guiltily where all this great little flood of confidence is getting you. That's the pragmatic approach - - - where are you getting? Measure your precepts and their values by the tangible good you derive from their use. Take the grandparents, now. What do you know about them? Sure, they were born in Austria, they say "cholly" for "jolly" and "ven" for "when".
Grampy" is white-haired, terribly even-tempered, terribly old, terribly endearing in his mute and blind admiration of everything you do. You take a bitter and rather self-righteous pride in the fact that he's a steward at a Country Club.
Grammy is spry, with a big fat bosom and spindly arthritic legs. She cooks good sour cream sauce and makes up her own recipes. She slurps her soup, and drops particles of food from her plate down the front of her dresses.
She is getting hard of hearing, and her hair is just beginning to turn gray. There is your dead father who is somewhere in you, interwoven in the cellular system of your long body which sprouted from one of his sperm cells uniting with an egg cell in your mother's uterus.
You remember that you were his favorite when your were little, and you used to make up dances to do for him as he lay on the living room couch after supper. You wonder if the absence of an older man in the house has anything to do with your intense craving for male company and the delight in the restful low sound of a group of boys, talking and laughing.
You wish you had been made to know Botany, Zoology and Science when you were young. But with your father dead, you leaned abnormally to the "Humanities" personality of your mother. And you were frightened when you heard yourself stop talking and felt the echo of her voice, as if she had spoken in you, as if you weren't quite you, but were growing and continuing in her wake, and as if her expressions were growing and emanating from your face.
Here upon you ponder, and wonder if that's what happens to older people when they die contented - - - that they feel they have somehow transcended the wall of flesh which is crumbling fatally and forever around them and that their fire and protoplasm and pulse have leapt over bounds and will live on in off spring, continuing the chain of life Then there is your brother - 6 feet four inches tall, lovable and intelligent.
You fought with him when you were little, threw tin soldiers at his head, gouged his neck with a careless flick of your iceskate Yes, you can outline the people you've lived with these eighteen years in a few sentences You could try, perhaps, but they would be much the same as yours These people are the ones most basically responsible for what you are.
Then there are the teachers - Miss Norris, the principle of grammar school; Miss Raguse, the tall, hideous 7th grade English teacher who loved poetry, and read it aloud to the class, even to the little boys destined to be garage mechanics; Mr.
Crockett, the man through high school who fostered your intellectual life, along with that of your circle of classmates who took the three year advanced English course; Mrs. Koffka," this year at Smith, who took up the torch and made you want to know, to think, to learn, to beat your head out against the knowledge of centuries. And there are the girls, who have come singly in a strange continuity to grow more and more intensely, to meet your growth, from the summers of camping and fern-hut building with Betsy Powley, to the tennis and talks with Mary Ventura and the pretty black-haired wit of Ruth Geisel, to the sweet sentiment of Patsy O'Neil, to the synthesis of these in Marcia.
And the boys, from Jimmy Beal, who drew you pictures of pretty girls in fifth grade, and roller-skated along the beach and planned to get married in a little white house with roses on a picket fence - you remember, absurdly now, how his little sister was drowned on the beaches while walking on ice cakes, and how you didn't know just how to react to his white, drawn face when you saw him back at school.
You wanted to say nice things and how sorry you were, and then you felt a sudden hardening and strange anger at him for his weakness which intensified yours. So you stuck out your tongue at him and made a face. And you never played with him again.
There was tall gawky John Stenberg who printed "Sylvia loves John" on his printing press and scattered little slips of paper all over the streets and in every desk at school. Mortified, yet secretly excited by such attention, you scorned his gifts of a rabbit's foot and a date to the carnival. Later years would have found you infinitely grateful for any of his attentions whatever.
A blank of several awkward and ungainly and ugly adolescent years ended suddenly with a brief mental infatuation, and then a slow awakening of physical relationships with boys, from the first time, at the traditional age of sixteen, that you found that a kiss was not as distasteful as once imagined.
And so you could list the thirty or forty boys you've gone out with in the last two years of your dating existence - and append a brief, if not astringent, note of gratitude to each one for an increased education in conversation, confidence and - - - so on. Till now you comb your hair with practiced casualness and go downstairs to greet the man of the hour with a careless sparkle in your eyes born of years of "faux pas" and blunders. Gone are the days where a date began in the afternoon, with an agony of nervousness prickling the back of the neck, making hands slippery and cold with sweat - sickening nausea that wouldn't let you eat supper - or do anything besides wait tensely, ready for at least half an hour before the boys came, and able only to check and re-check for slip-showing or hair-uncurled.
And you look now at your reflection on the window and smile - for all your fat nose, you're quite a presentable long and lithe piece of tan flesh. And your mirth congeals on your full mouth as you think of yourself growing used to your reflection after year on year of mirror-glimpses.
If you had a wen on either cheek, you'd get used to that, too. And the rain is still coming down, and it is getting later and later And there was yesterday, the six of us on the Cape," in the beach wagon. A bright and laughing tension glittering dangerously between you and the one in the front seat who was your partner.
Have you a capacity for love of someone beside yourself? I wonder, sometimes. You walked and you drove in the rain. You talked, taunted and teased, eating in the parked station wagon on a rise in the lonely wet black road that undulated along by the sea. Outside, beyond the cold thin glass of the rain blurred window you could see the ocean, remote and pale blue-gray, far out on the sand flats. The land was a warmer gray, with under washes of tawny yellow; soiled, and gloomy green underbrush cowered low along the dunes, and a cold tattoo of metallic raindrops beat on the canvas beach wagon roof.
Inside the windows steamed from breath and heat of six bodies, rain trickled from slickers down into dark wet puddles on the rubber floor matting, and there was the wet smell of tunafish and peeled oranges.
Afterwards there was more driving through the rain, and the nebulous tunnels of green smudged a unique frosted green against the windows, seen through the film of steam collecting there.
A dry stop at the "Sail Loft" - a barn of a place with fishnet curtains at the windows, full of expensive wool and cotton clothes and a sparkling blue-black haired girl name Pam. People - all young - came in, and there was talk, with boys especially.
You wondered briefly if the Great God could stoop to jealously - and then you felt the lovely placating touch of hands on hair in a long light caress that could have been termed possessive. You felt very gay, very foolish, very cold and wet in the big chilly room with all the boys and girls. There was a visit at a new house - a meeting of a pert, wraith-slim red haired girl called Debby and a blonde baby boy who didn't talk, but who dimpled at his sister's laughter. A kitchen window - big and glassed in, overlooked a hill of scrub pine, and the sea, even more grayly blue and distant than ever.