Day 29: Sylvain Plathless

Today, with only one day of this April poetry madness left, somebody will regret coming up with this challenge.

Challenge 29: “Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem based on the Plath Poetry Project’s calendar. Simply pick a poem from the calendar, and then write a poem that responds or engages with your chosen Plath poem in some way.”

Let’s just say that after writing one poem every single day, sticking to the prompt and all, my obedience is running VERY thin. All admirers of Ms. Plath shall see promptly just how thin. I blame Challenge 18. Remember? (“First, find a poem in a book or magazine. Use a piece of paper to cover over everything but the last line. Now write a line of your own that completes the thought …”)

I took Ms. Plath’s poem Among the Narcissi (see below), started with the bottom line and worked my way up line by line with a twist: I inserted an antonym (or similar) in the place of each of her words. This is the result. Sorry not sorry. 😀

Beyond the Tulips
By Sylvain Plathless (a.k.a. MMM)

Rigid, sunny and not gray at all, like those October stones,
Agatha straightens, out of her red beanpants, beyond the tulips. She is falling ill to nothing on the brain.

Neither the tulips straighten away from any small soul :
they silence its stripes below the yellow cave, nowhere where Agatha doctors the joy of her wounds, and runs and doesn’t walk.

No dignity out of that; here isn’t an informality-
the fruit plain, nothing like wounds, or the women breaking.
We straighten or fall : should we bear other come-hithers?

Or is it that preteens hate big loners?
She isn’t very red; the lovely calm can’t try her breathlessness. The tulips don’t look down unlike adults, either slow or black.

Among the Narcissi
By Sylvia Plath

Spry, wry, and gray as these March sticks,
Percy bows, in his blue peajacket, among the narcissi.
He is recuperating from something on the lung.

The narcissi, too, are bowing to some big thing :
It rattles their stars on the green hill where Percy
Nurses the hardship of his stitches, and walks and walks.

There is a dignity to this; there is a formality-
The flowers vivid as bandages, and the man mending.
They bow and stand : they suffer such attacks!

And the octogenarian loves the little flocks.
He is quite blue; the terrible wind tries his breathing.
The narcissi look up like children, quickly and whitely.


And here are some untulips and non-narcissi. I don’t think I have ever seen them before, but this year they are abundant.

31 thoughts on “Day 29: Sylvain Plathless

    1. Hihihihhi. Go ahead, Maggie. I certainly won’t mind but Ms. Plath and her camp might. 😀 Since of course it would come back to her poem – not! It’s like a back-translation, never the same as the original.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hihih, Judy, I appreciate your honesty, always. Funnily, this poem has 20 likes, mostly by people who I don’t know. I don’t know why they would just be kind. I don’t think it’s the flowers. 😀 Anyway, we like different things and that’s the point, or it would get very boring around here.


  1. Wow. Who knew there was a Plath Poetry Calendar? I actually am a reader of Plath. You probably already know that. I have been since my early 20s. I thought the Plath poem you chose was very interesting and the poem you wrote was beautiful and powerful and I would have loved it without knowing the prompt. It definitely stands alone. I’m actually hugely impressed that you’ve managed to stick with the prompts for 30 days. I have no patience with prompts at all. I think maybe you are more of a poet than you think. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Robin, if you are happy with this poem, then I’m happy too. 🙂 I’m amazed as well that I did it (still need to write the last one!). I’ve added to my About me that I now consider myself borderline poet. Beware! 😉 Prompts help me much because without them I could be all over the place. I especially liked those that taught me a new form or technique. It’s obvious that my brain is pretty much idle and I enjoyed fulfilling the tasks for a change. Thank you for your support always. All well! ❤


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