• Departure of the Ghost

    Sylvia Plath

    Summer 1959

    Enter the chilly noman’s land of about
    Five o’clock in the morning, the no-color void
    Where the waking head rubbishes out the draggled lot
    Of sulphurous dreamscapes and obscure lunar conundrums
    Which seemed, when dreamed, to mean so profoundly much,

    Gets ready to face the ready-made creation
    Of chairs and bureaus and sleep-twisted sheets.
    This is the kingdom of the fading apparition,
    The oracular ghost who dwindles on pin-legs
    To a knot of laundry, with a classic bunch of sheets

    Upraised, as a hand, emblematic of farewell.
    At this joint between two worlds and two entirely
    Incompatible modes of time, the raw material
    Of our meat-and-potato thoughts assumes the nimbus
    Of ambrosial revelation. And so departs.

    But as chair and bureau are the hieroglyphs
    Of some godly utterance wakened heads ignore,
    So these posed sheets, before they thin to nothing,
    Speak in sign language of a lost otherworld,
    A world we lose by merely waking up.

    Trailing its telltale tatters only at the outermost
    Fringe of mundane vision, this ghost goes,
    Hand aloft, goodbye, goodbye, not down
    Into the rocky gizzard of the earth,
    But toward the region where our thick atmosphere

    Diminishes, and god knows what is there:
    A point of exclamation marks that sky
    In ringing orange like a stellar carrot;
    Its round period, displaced and green,
    Suspends beside it the first point, the starting

    Point of Eden, next the new moon’s curve.
    Go, ghost of our mother and father, ghost of us,
    And ghost of our dreams’ children, in those sheets
    Which signify our origin and end,
    To the cloud-cuckoo land of color wheels

    And pristine alphabets and cows that moo
    And moo as they jump over moons as new
    As that crisp cusp toward which you voyage now.
    Hail and farewell. Hello, goodbye. O keeper
    Of the profane grail, the dreaming skull.

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