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Dialogue Between Ghost And Priest Analysis

Author: poem of Sylvia Plath Type: poem Views: 23

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In the rectory garden on his evening walk

Paced brisk Father Shawn.  A cold day, a sodden one it was

In black November.  After a sliding rain

Dew stood in chill sweat on each stalk,

Each thorn; spiring from wet earth, a blue haze

Hung caught in dark-webbed branches like a fabulous heron.

Hauled sudden from solitude,

Hair prickling on his head,

Father Shawn perceived a ghost

Shaping itself from that mist.

'How now,' Father Shawn crisply addressed the ghost

Wavering there, gauze-edged, smelling of woodsmoke,

'What manner of business are you on?

From your blue pallor, I'd say you inhabited the frozen waste

Of hell, and not the fiery part.  Yet to judge by that dazzled look,

That noble mien, perhaps you've late quitted heaven?'

In voice furred with frost,

Ghost said to priest:

'Neither of those countries do I frequent:

Earth is my haunt.'

'Come, come,' Father Shawn gave an impatient shrug,

'I don't ask you to spin some ridiculous fable

Of gilded harps or gnawing fire:  simply tell

After your life's end, what just epilogue

God ordained to follow up your days.  Is it such trouble

To satisfy the questions of a curious old fool?'

'In life, love gnawed my skin

To this white bone;

What love did then, love does now:

Gnaws me through.'

'What love,' asked Father Shawn, 'but too great love

Of flawed earth-flesh could cause this sorry pass?

Some damned condition you are in:

Thinking never to have left the world, you grieve

As though alive, shriveling in torment thus

To atone as shade for sin that lured blind man.'

'The day of doom

Is not yest come.

Until that time

A crock of dust is my dear hom.'

'Fond phantom,' cried shocked Father Shawn,

'Can there be such stubbornness--

A soul grown feverish, clutching its dead body-tree

Like a last storm-crossed leaf?  Best get you gone

To judgment in a higher court of grace.

Repent, depart, before God's trump-crack splits the sky.'

From that pale mist

Ghost swore to priest:

'There sits no higher court

Than man's red heart.'


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