Commonplace Book: From a slightly water-damaged collection of Sylvia Plath

Compelling passages, notable quotables, bon mots, disjecta, ephemera, and miscellany.

plath

“The Goring” [1956]

Arena dust rusted by four bulls’ blood to a dull redness,
The afternoon at a bad end under the crowd’s truculence,
The ritual death each time botched among dropped capes, ill-judged stabs,
The strongest will seemed a will toward ceremony. Obese, dark-
Faced in his rich yellows, tassels, pompons, braid, the picador

Rode out against the fifth bull to brace his pike and slowly bear
Down deep into the bent bull-neck. Cumbrous routine, not artwork.
Instinct for art began with the bull’s horn lofting in the mob’s
Hush a lumped man-shape. The whole act formal, fluent as a dance.
Blood faultlessly broached redeemed the sullied air, the earth’s grossness.

– From The Collected Poems of Sylvia Plath, Edited by Ted Hughes

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