La Dordogne

Stars over the Dordogne – Plath’s announcement

Stars over the Dordogne by the poetess Sylvia Plath seems like an announcement for what she was about to do on 11 February 1963. That was the day she died. This poetess still has a certain mythical status.

Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath
Source: Wikipedia

The mythical status of Plath

Sylvia Plath has a certain mythical status. She still inspires many modern-day poets. It’s the sad ending of her own life that still has an impact on others. How could someone who wrote such beautiful words end her life in the way she did?

It is not surprising that the article that appeared earlier through The Ministry of Poetic Affairs was read so much. We decided to use this article on Let’s Agree It’s Art since we are the successors to this poetry project.

The poem is popular and there is a good reason for this. Many believe that this is an announcement about her death. She took her life on 11 February 1963. This was a carefully planned suicide. She died at the age of only thirty. She had been suffering from depression through most of her life.

Read more about this poem and the probably calling for death in the article of the New York Times of 22 November 1981.

Stars over the Dordogne

Stars over the Dordogne

Stars are dropping thick as stones into the twiggy
Picket of trees whose silhouette is darker
Than the dark of the sky because it is quite starless.
The woods are a well. The stars drop silently.
They seem large, yet they drop, and no gap is visible.
Nor do they send up fires where they fall
Or any signal of distress or anxiousness.
They are eaten immediately by the pines.

Where I am at home, only the sparsest stars
Arrive at twilight, and then after some effort.
And they are wan, dulled by much travelling.
The smaller and more timid never arrive at all
But stay, sitting far out, in their own dust.
They are orphans. I cannot see them. They are lost.
But tonight they have discovered this river with no trouble,
They are scrubbed and self-assured as the great planets.

The Big Dipper is my only familiar.
I miss Orion and Cassiopeia’s Chair. Maybe they are
Hanging shyly under the studded horizon
Like a child’s too-simple mathematical problem.
Infinite number seems to be the issue up there.
Or else they are present, and their disguise so bright
I am overlooking them by looking too hard.
Perhaps it is the season that is not right.

And what if the sky here is no different,
And it is my eyes that have been sharpening themselves?
Such a luxury of stars would embarrass me.
The few I am used to are plain and durable;
I think they would not wish for this dressy backcloth
Or much company, or the mildness of the south.
They are too puritan and solitary for that—
When one of them falls it leaves a space,

A sense of absence in its old shining place.
And where I lie now, back to my own dark star,
I see those constellations in my head,
Unwarmed by the sweet air of this peach orchard.
There is too much ease here; these stars treat me too well.
On this hill, with its view of lit castles, each swung bell
Is accounting for its cow. I shut my eyes
And drink the small night chill like news of home.

Sylvia Plath

La Dordogne

And now you are probably wondering why the painting of Frits Thaulow was used as an introduction image for this article. Thalouw died long before Plath did. He died in 1906. Five years before, he moved to France. He was greatly inspired by the French landscape. Since the poem is about the river Dordogne, it’s a good time to combine poetry with another art form: painting. In this case a beautiful painting from Thaulow.

La Dordogne
The river Dordogne painted by the Norwegian painter Frits Thaulow (1847 – 1906).
Source: Wikipedia

 

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