Posts Tagged ‘litchantment’
Nestled in the midst of Sylvia Plath’s Sonnet: To Time, the line ‘So cry for the pagan girl left picking olives beside a sunblue sea…” has long remained with me. Occasionally on the coast it will pop into my head unbidden, or late at night driving through the ‘neon, plastic-windowed city’ the poem will rise up out of y swirling subconscious to remind me of its sadness and its beauty.
Sonnet: To Time (see below) is a melancholy tribute to the loss of the Old Ways. It is a mid-twentieth century pre-cursor to the swelling tide of magickal reaffirmation, Wiccan paths, and Neo-Paganism that was soon to sweep our world (literally, broomsticks and all!). Indeed, the late lamented Sylvia Plath was once briefly into the occult. Plath and husband-poet Ted Hughes temporarily joined some of the magickal groups in 1950s Britain, delving into the erudite mysteries of astrology and astral projection. Plath’s interests in the lost magicks of the world and the decay of ancient civilizations is evident throughout her poetry, even in her early years as a writer.
Collected as part of her Juvenilia, it was written long before Plath was an established poet and author. Its obscurity means that Sonnet: To Time is often overlooked in literary circles, but this does not mean it is not worthy of our magickal attention. It is a haunting reminder of the presence of magick in the world, how easily humankind overlooks it, and how quickly it might slip away. But ultimately, it cannot desert the world entirely. Traces of it will always linger in our memories and myths, no matter how mundane the world becomes.
Sonnet To Time
By Sylvia Plath
Today we move in jade and cease with garnet
Amid the ticking jeweled clocks that mark
Our years. Death comes in a casual steel car, yet
We vaunt our days in neon and scorn the dark.
But outside the diabolic steel of this
Most plastic-windowed city, I can hear
The lone wind raving in the gutter, his
Voice crying exclusion in my ear.
So cry for the pagan girl left picking olives
Beside a sunblue sea, and mourn the flagon
Raised to toast a thousand kings, for all gives
Sorrow; weep for the legendary dragon.
Time is a great machine of iron bars
That drains eternally the milk of stars.
Sonnet: To Time has long been a favorite piece of litchantment for me and I hope that you too have enjoyed it. Please post about other favorite magickal literary lovelies that have inspired you and that you would like to share!
This week I am presenting an archaeological paper at the Digital Heritage conference at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (excitingness!). And as I am in the birthplace of one of my favorite poets, Emily Dickinson, it seemed apropos to share one of my favorite works with you: one which emphasizes the notion of utilizing one’s imagination and finding fantasy and magick in the mundane elements of life.
Dickinson’s A Murmur in the Trees subtly emphasizes the idea of seeing beyond the regular world into what I have always interpreted as a sort of faerie realm or different dimension which coexists with our own. It advocates for seeing the world as brightly techno-colored as we can, and holding that close to ourselves comfortably, without insisting that others must see it as well. Though it is not overtly a magickal bit of literature, it hints at the otherworlds magickal practices attempt to reach and at a calm understanding of the unity between those worlds and our own. I do hope you enjoy it (and wish me luck at the conference!):
A MURMUR in the trees to note,
Not loud enough for wind;
A star not far enough to seek,
Nor near enough to find;
A long, long yellow on the lawn,
A hubbub as of feet;
Not audible, as ours to us,
But dapperer, more sweet;
A hurrying home of little men
To houses unperceived, –
All this, and more, if I should tell,
Would never be believed.
Of robins in the trundle bed
How many I espy
Whose nightgowns could not hide the wings,
Although I heard them try!
But then I promised ne’er to tell;
How could I break my word?
So go your way and I’ll go mine, –
No fear you’ll miss the road.