Lady Lazarus

by Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath

I have done it again.
  One year in every ten
  I manage it--
 
  A sort of walking miracle, my skin
  Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
  My right foot
 
  A paperweight,
  My face a featureless, fine
  Jew linen.
 
  Peel off the napkin
  0 my enemy.
  Do I terrify?--
 
  The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
  The sour breath
  Will vanish in a day.
 
  Soon, soon the flesh
  The grave cave ate will be
  At home on me
 
  And I a smiling woman.
  I am only thirty.
  And like the cat I have nine times to die.
 
  This is Number Three.
  What a trash
  To annihilate each decade.
 
  What a million filaments.
  The peanut-crunching crowd
  Shoves in to see
 
  Them unwrap me hand and foot
  The big strip tease.
  Gentlemen, ladies
 
  These are my hands
  My knees.
  I may be skin and bone,
 
  Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
  The first time it happened I was ten.
  It was an accident.
 
  The second time I meant
  To last it out and not come back at all.
  I rocked shut
 
  As a seashell.
  They had to call and call
  And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.
 
  Dying
  Is an art, like everything else,
  I do it exceptionally well.
 
  I do it so it feels like hell.
  I do it so it feels real.
  I guess you could say I've a call.
 
  It's easy enough to do it in a cell.
  It's easy enough to do it and stay put.
  It's the theatrical
 
  Comeback in broad day
  To the same place, the same face, the same brute
  Amused shout:
 
  'A miracle!'
  That knocks me out.
  There is a charge
 
  For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
  For the hearing of my heart--
  It really goes.
 
  And there is a charge, a very large charge
  For a word or a touch
  Or a bit of blood
 
  Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
  So, so, Herr Doktor.
  So, Herr Enemy.
 
  I am your opus,
  I am your valuable,
  The pure gold baby
 
  That melts to a shriek.
  I turn and burn.
  Do not think I underestimate your great concern.
 
  Ash, ash --
  You poke and stir.
  Flesh, bone, there is nothing there--
 
  A cake of soap,
  A wedding ring,
  A gold filling.
 
  Herr God, Herr Lucifer
  Beware
  Beware.
 
  Out of the ash
  I rise with my red hair
  And I eat men like air.





Last updated January 14, 2019