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Bewildering Stories

Challenge 375 Response

Poetry in 375

Carmen Ruggero

Does John Stocks’ “Plath” require a knowledge of the career and fate of the poet Sylvia Plath? Does Marina J. Neary’s “Mustardseed’s Ambush” require a knowledge of the plot and casting of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

In his poem “Plath,” John Stocks writes of insanity and the back and forth between moments of clarity and darkness. And he so well puts it across:

A brief immersion in rapture
Before the old demons came calling.

So we can say his is a poem about insanity. That was my first impression but he also refers to Sylvia Plath in the title. So yes, knowing who she was, her career and fate, is relevant.

In Marina J. Neary’s “Mustardseed’s Ambush,” Marina uses Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as the vehicle to illustrate the jealousy expressed by the one actress who was cast as Mustardseed, though she clearly sees herself as the one who should have been given the lead. After all, it is the leading actress to whom the honor, the applause, and the great reviews will go.

But after all the said and done, she got what she got, and the poor actress perhaps needs to face the fact that she just didn’t cut it. The last line is extremely sad and in fact, I think pathetic:

For now the bathroom mirror
Is my most faithful audience.

But poetry is to the mind of the reader, what the color of the rose is to the eye of the beholder.

Quoting from Marina J. Neary’s “Mustardseed’s Ambush”

It’s not easy to watch
How paper petals land on Titania’s hair,
While you’re just a prancing fairy.

That’s a most hurtful, lonely moment and one that most of us have known one way or another. And so we can relate to that poem on our own level and outside of its setting.

Quoting from John Stocks’ “Plath”:

And all that’s worth knowing
Rests on my shelf
A salutary reminder
That genius cannot rescue itself.

That is yet another lonely and hurtful moment. And though I understand those words and their relationship to Plath, I can also relate to it, recalling moments when I thought all that’s worth knowing is in my desk drawer.

Both these poems bring the reader down to a lonely moment of recognition. And that’s the nature of poetry.

As a poet myself, I believe that the precise moment when the reader’s imagination flies away from the poet’s words and into his own reality is a moment of true poetic beauty.

Copyright © 2010 by Carmen Ruggero

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