“Words” by Sylvia Plath – one of her final poems…

sylvia-plath-largeSylvia Plath wrote “Words” – a remarkable piece – ten days before her death. The poem appeared in the first edition of Ariel, although Plath never included it in any of the collection’s drafted versions. This wasn’t because she believed the poem to be weak or dissimilar to the other works in terms of theme or tone. She hadn’t revised her working ms in the three months prior to her death. Had she not taken her own life when she did, Plath may have included most of those final poems in the finished version of Ariel, but that’s something we’ll never know. Another possible view – “Words” and a few of her other final works would have been the start of another volume.

The poem is not part of Ariel, The Restored Edition (Harper, 2005), which includes a facsimile of her manuscript, reinstating Plath’s original selections and order.


After whose stroke the wood rings,
And the echoes!
Echoes traveling
Off from the center like horses.

The sap
Wells like tears, like the
Water striving
To re-establish its mirror
Over the rock

That drops and turns,
A white skull,
Eaten by weedy greens.
Years later I
Encounter them on the road —–

Words dry and riderless,
The indefatigable hoof-taps.
From the bottom of the pool, fixed stars
Govern a life.



~ by samofthetenthousandthings on September 17, 2016.

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