March 01, 2005

Doomed Daddy

Everytime I read Sylvia Plath, I walk away with a sense of wonder. As a poet, I'm always looking for ways to add depth to my poetry. Believe me, the more you write, the more you realize that stories aren't "just stories." e.e. cummings doesn't fall too far behind with depth either. There's an element in these poems that pulls you in, makes you want to swim around with the words in the faint hope that you'll discover how deep it is exactly that they go.

It's evident that the Holocaust deeply affected Plath, because she walks away with a description that nailed the Nazis.

"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--"

I'm not entirely sure of what "Panzer-man" signifies, but it's apparent that the image has been burned into her memory. Daddy apparently was a Nazi soldier with a "fat black heart" whom the villagers "never liked."

What I found interesting was the ties that are cut off with the past right at the beginning, and then at the very end.

She goes from "You do not do... any more, black shoe," to "Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through." Very abruptly she slices away the links that bind her together with her father and every memory.

e.e.cummings, however, stands diametrically across this spectrum. My favorite lines are when he says, "Lifting the calleys of the sea/ my father moed through griefs of joy." It is often said that the man who makes others laugh has a deep sadness buried within him. However, "dad' here, keeps pursuing, making light out of his darkness, spreading love and joy all around.

"his sorrow was as true as bread:
no liar looked him in the head;
if every friend became his foe
he'd laugh and build a world with snow."

How do you fight with a man like that? Does anyone remember that old saying from the 60's that's been heard a lot lately? Killing for peace is like making love for war. What matters in the end? I read once that if a person remembers your suit, but not your smile, then you didn't smile honestly enough.

"because my father lived his soul
love is the whole and more than all."

We'd be so much happier if we just loved unconditionally.

Posted by NehaBawa at March 1, 2005 08:53 PM | TrackBack

This is so true. The world would be a much better place if people would just simply treat other's as they want to be treated. There is not nearly enough of it today. I see it everyday in my practicum experiance. Kids just say things just to push other people's buttons to see what they will do.

What do you think about the way the world is portrayed to kids? Could you relate these poems to children?

Posted by: Tiffany at March 2, 2005 03:51 PM

I love the suit vs. smile thing! I may have to use that someday :-)

Cummings has a way with making things simple and beautiful in my opinion. I am never disappointed with his works.

Those final lines that you quoted remind me of the saying that "the sum of the parts is greater than the whole." Wouldn't it be great to try to find out if the sum of all the love of everyone in the world was greater than the whole love of God???? Sounds silly, I know; but that's exactly what popped into my mind.

Posted by: Karissa at March 2, 2005 09:57 PM

Tiff, I was having this conversation with John H today about cliques and cliquish behavior. Where do you think kids learn the things that they do?

Posted by: Neha at March 2, 2005 10:27 PM
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