I an infrequently lost for words. I like to think of myself as quite an eloquent and articulate speaker and writer, but there are times when I feel neither. It is ironic that the very subject of this poem, a lack of words, or rather a lack of inspiration, is exactly what is holding me back from writing the things I would like to write. Although I know how this poem makes me feel and I know the emotions it conveys, I cannot bring myself to write about them or to speak about them, I simply cannot find the words.
Each time I read the poem a rush of thoughts dash through my mind, so quickly that I cannot recollect them in time to consider them in the detail they deserve. This poem deserves consideration, thought, analysis, it deserves appreciation and admiration, because it describes exactly how even the most expressive and eloquent writers are sometimes at a loss for words.
Although the poem is a metaphor and is about many things that lie deep beneath the surface of the words, it is beautifully written even in the most literal terms.
Plath uses adjectives to describe every object, every movement of the poem, ‘stiff twig’, ‘spotted leaves’. She uses many other poetic devices, such as alliteration in the lines ‘rare, random’, ‘walk wary’, ‘so shine as to seize my senses’ and personification in the lines ‘mute sky’ , ‘minor light may still lean incandescent’. The poet also uses short phrases broken by commas to increase the tempo of the poem and to give it a rushed feeling. However, these poetic devices are not simply used to embellish a purely literal piece of writing.
They are used to demonstrate the beauty of the mundane, the magnificence of the ordinary. The poet says ‘I do not expect a miracle or an accident’ which suggests that she is content with the mundane and can see it’s splendour. But as the poem progresses we see that she could not survive on the ordinary, but needed to express herself in her poetry and needed inspiration to do so.
Though Plath tries to persuade herself she survive on the ordinary and the imple, it is obvious that desire for inspiration, ‘the angel’, are the only things that can make these mundane situations bearable. She contradicts herself when she states that ‘miracles occur. ’ She contradicts her previous idea that there is beauty in the ordinary and instead describes moments without inspiration being similar to ‘trekking stubborn through this season of fatigue’ . This suggests that during these periods of time she is not living, but barely surviving.
Her entire life depends on the moments of inspiration, ‘for that rare, random descent. ’ She is a poet, and her survival depends on her writing. She can only express herself through her writing, and without it, without her inspiration, she feels nothing. This nothingness, this lack of inspiration is to her far worse than the feelings of depression she felt constantly throughout her life. Her ‘fear of total neutrality’ consumes her and scares her. This ‘fear of neutrality’ refers not only to writing, but also to life in general.
If one feels nothing, if life is constantly similar to ‘trekking stubborn through this season of fatigue’ then there is no reason to live in the first place. Life is a constant wait for inspiration, for meaning, for purpose, and often this purpose does not appear. Plath realises, unlike many others, that without purpose, without inspiration, there is no beauty in the mundane. Without ‘that rare, random descent’ of an ‘angel’ there is little reason for life at all.