Slyvia Plath’s “Whitsun”


This is not what I meant:

Stucco arches, the banked rocks sunning in rows,

Bald eyes or petrified eggs,

Grownups coffined in stockings and jackets,

Lard-pale, sipping the thin

Air like a medicine.

The stopped horse on his chromium pole

Stares through us; his hooves chew the breeze.

Your shirt of crisp linen

Bloats like a spinnaker. Hat brims

Deflect the watery dazzle; the people idle

As if in hospital.

I can smell the salt, all right.

At our feet, the weed-mustachioed sea

Exhibits its glaucous silks,

Bowing and truckling like an old-school oriental.

You’re no happier than I about it.

A policeman points out a vacant cliff

Green as a pool table, where cabbage butterflies

Peel off to sea as gulls do,

And we picnic in the death-stench of a hawthorn.

The waves pulse like hearts.

Beached under the spumy blooms, we lie

Sea-sick and fever-dry.

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