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Tale Of A Tub Analysis

Author: poem of Sylvia Plath Type: poem Views: 12

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The photographic chamber of the eye

records bare painted walls, while an electric light

lays the chromium nerves of plumbing raw;

such poverty assaults the ego; caught

naked in the merely actual room,

the stranger in the lavatory mirror

puts on a public grin, repeats our name

but scrupulously reflects the usual terror.

Just how guilty are we when the ceiling

reveals no cracks that can be decoded? when washbowl

maintains it has no more holy calling

than physical ablution, and the towel

dryly disclaims that fierce troll faces lurk

in its explicit folds? or when the window,

blind with steam, will not admit the dark

which shrouds our prospects in ambiguous shadow?

Twenty years ago, the familiar tub

bred an ample batch of omens; but now

water faucets spawn no danger; each crab

and octopus -- scrabbling just beyond the view,

waiting for some accidental break

in ritual, to strike -- is definitely gone;

the authentic sea denies them and will pluck

fantastic flesh down to the honest bone.

We take the plunge; under water our limbs

waver, faintly green, shuddering away

from the genuine color of skin; can our dreams

ever blur the intransigent lines which draw

the shape that shuts us in? absolute fact

intrudes even when the revolted eye

is closed; the tub exists behind our back;

its glittering surfaces are blank and true.

Yet always the ridiculous nude flanks urge

the fabrication of some cloth to cover

such starkness; accuracy must not stalk at large:

each day demands we create our whole world over,

disguising the constant horror in a coat

of many-colored fictions; we mask our past

in the green of Eden, pretend future's shining fruit

can sprout from the navel of this present waste.

In this particular tub, two knees jut up

like icebergs, while minute brown hairs rise

on arms and legs in a fringe of kelp; green soap

navigates the tidal slosh of seas

breaking on legendary beaches; in faith

we shall board our imagined ship and wildly sail

among sacred islands of the mad till death

shatters the fabulous stars and makes us real.


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