In Ariel, Plath's poem Totem, is a journey of a less literal kind. Deceptively it starts on a railway line running through countryside, but from the beginning this life metaphor is unstintingly visceral and threatening: 'The engine is eating the track' and 'the farmers like pigs....(have) blood on their minds'. Indeed the poem is soaked in the red stuff from 'the butcher's gullotine' and the aborted hare to Plato's afterbirth, Christ blood and so on: 'the world is blood-hot and personal'. She returns to the travel imagery towards the end of the poem:
'There is no terminus, only suitcases
Out of which the same self unfolds like a suit
Bald and shiny, with pockets of wishes,
Notions and tickets, short circuits and folding mirrors.'
Mirrors again - a Plath trope. It's a frighteningly uncompromising vision of life's journey and the tied nature of existence:
In nets of the infinite,
Roped in at the end by the one
Death with its many sticks'
culminating with death in its last line.
|Me and the girls, Bryce Canyon, Utah, 2003.|