Memories and Milestones Essay

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Memoirs and Milestones Essay – Sylvia Plath
Memories are composites of fantasy, reality and intuition that can simultaneously be made from a single idea and are short lived. The fantasies within memories are composed when emotions and other previous experiences combine together, whereas, the reality and intuition takes on the part of the already lived milestones within our lives. Plath’s poetry focuses relentlessly on the painful experiences of life. Some say it offers no hope, this however is not true. Plath’s poetry is not doomed, she only expresses a different form of it, where its core is created deep within herself among her own personal feelings and experiences. Plath is a confessional poet.
Confessional poetry emerged in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. It expresses personal feelings about death, trauma, depression and relationships. It is a form of poetry and not an autobiography. The confessional poets and their poems of the 1950’s and 60’s pioneered a specific type of writing that forever changed the landscape of poetry. It continues on today with contemporary poets whose writing largely draws upon their personal experiences, mainly being their memories although memories are not always relaible. Plath expresses her ‘confessions’ of memoirs and milestones within a large quantity of her poems. These poems include; ‘Whiteness I Remember’, ‘Ariel’ and ‘You’re’.
Plath’s poem ‘Whiteness I Remember’ is a very obvious example of her expressing her feelings about a memory. The poem appears to be a straightforward literal account of her first horse ride on what was supposed to be a calm horse, “First horse under me” that turns and starts to bolt on its way back home, giving Plath a terrifying introduction to riding horses. The poem is a metaphor for life and those moments that most affects us, whether it is a small insignificant memory or an unforgettable milestone in life, and the reason why they stay is because they are beyond our control and are usually connected with something elemental in the human condition. Plath wrote that being in that situation “simplified” her, it showed that what she wears or even how much money she has doesn’t make a difference, only hanging on instead of letting go. In the realisation of how those events really matter, Plath saw the “fear, wisdom, at one” all contained within all that she could see, “his one whiteness”. The poem expresses the feelings of a heightened death-defying experience and how it focuses all our being on survival. It strips away all other concerns one might have, as staying alive is paramount.
In a similar poem to ‘Whiteness I Remember’, Plath uses another personal experience of horse riding in her poem ‘Ariel’. ‘Ariel’ depicts a woman riding a horse at the very break of dawn. It describes the ecstasy and personal transformation that occurs throughout the experience. The poem begins in darkness and passivity but moves into one of control and power. Unleashing her personal feelings, Plath explores many notions of identity through the central metaphor of a horse. It is however, ironic that in Plath’s poem ‘Ariel’ it is about the celebration of life and the ecstasy of horse riding, creativity and freedom but in the end of the poem it finally expresses the desire to escape from life. Whereas in ‘Whiteness I Remember’, Plath describes the sudden focus on life when she comes close to a life or death situation and the sudden urge and will to hang on, not just to the horse but to life itself. ‘Ariel’ is another excellent example of just how much Plath puts herself into her poems, relating to her ‘darkness’ being depression and ‘morning’ as the final word in the poem suggesting imagery of the sun and being consumed by it and refined.
Not all of Plath’s confessional