On Sylvia Plath

sylvia plath

For my English class we are exploring the use of metaphors to describe a poet, the object of our analysis, in many different lights hoping to convey knowledge about the kind of individual they were or the life they led.

Here is my attempt at analyzing the famous individual Sylvia Plath through many different unrelated ideas or things.

  • If she were to be an animal she would be a skunk, always looked with a negative misconception, but also because it is a creature that can be aggressive when it wants to be but doesn’t always feel the need to be.  Plath can show her aggression and passion, but doesn’t always feel the need to express that through her writing.
  • If she were a plant she would be a cactus, beautiful in its own unique, prickly qualities not always favorable but understood by some.  Plath demonstrates the same harsh qualities as this prickly plant, but she also parallels to the fact that cacti survive in harsh isolated condition, they fight much harder to escape death something strongly connected to her character.
  • If she were an article of clothing she would be a raincoat, durable to the cold and rain and storm, a thin layer between comfort and discomfort.  Plath’s persona rests on this edge between hard depressing places and overcoming them just barely like a rain coat does in preventing/ protecting from the environment.
  • If she were a day of the week she would be a Sunday, the day at the end the last stop that we fall to in exhaustion from the busy week.  Plath would most resonate with this last day, the end of the line, a peace after the hardships just endured.
  • If she were a food she would be a green apple.  Sometimes appealing in its sour shocking taste, but sometimes overpowering in its dramatic effect in your mouth with an overpowering sensation.
  • If she were a color she would be navy, dark and gloomy, sometimes paired with happy colors to provide an appealing combination, but generally characterized with a solemn depressing feel.
  • If she were a geometric shape she would be a triangle, hard to fit around/with other shapes.  Plath demonstrates the same sharp edged personality and the same difficulty in fitting closely to the likeness of other people or shapes.
  • If she were a fragrance she would be lime, a scent used to cover up the bad smell of corpses and very strongly odorous dead things. Plath deals with struggling to keep these ideas/ realities hidden from the outside world and does a fairly good job of covering up such indelicacies but still it can show through in her character and in her writing.
  • If she were a type of building she would be a hospital as she spent a great deal of her time and life in one.
  • if she were a word she would be pain, because she underwent so much in her life whether it be physical, emotional, or spiritual.  Plath suffered a lot throughout and it definitely is apparent in her persona and writing.
  • If she were a musical instrument she would be a flute as she can play a sweet happy tune and also a calming sad and melancholy tune.
  • If she were a season of the year she would be fall, beautiful but also representing a time of dying and falling apart before the cold winds blow in.  There is something beautiful in the gradual decay of the world in fall, and the same can be said for viewing the life of Sylvia Plath.
  • If she were an appliance or machinery she would be a knife, effective in its job but also a tool that could inflict pain and suffering.  It doesn’t have to be used with such negative purposes but definitely could cause pain if it intended just as Plath deals with pain and the sharpness with which she addresses the world around her.
  • If she were a natural phenomenon she would be a tsunami, a dramatic devastating wave ending the life of many things while also paving the way for new life to recreate in the place of destruction and brokenness.  Plath although destructive to herself and others in her decisions that she made, did pave a path for inspiring writers and people coming up behind her.
  • If she were a literary character she would be Hamlet, fighting and triumphing over many things in life and influencing many lives around her, but in the end ending her own life and leaving  legacy and story behind her.
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Adoption

IMG_7089 (2)Around the world, there are an estimated 153 million orphans who have lost one parent. There are 17,900,000 orphans who have lost both parents and are living in orphanages or on the streets and lack the care and attention required for healthy development.

Most people will agree that taking care of and aiding orphans is important.  It’s a common moral practice and an expected duty of respectable society. Why wouldn’t we sponsor that foundation? Why wouldn’t we donate food and clothes when we can?  We walk away from the donation box or wave goodbye to the smiling kids, and can feel like we’ve checked that box having given a piece of our comforts away.  We are by any standard good Christians, good citizens, good people.  We can feel satisfied with leaving those faces wandering on the streets or in the facilitated building, by the warmth that signing a check or yielding an outgrown sweater can bring to our hearts.  Yes it’s good, and orphans needs care and aid but I want to ask a greater challenge in attacking this need.

These orphans need homes.  It’s not just about providing the resources and funds they need to grow up as educated, healthy individuals, they need community and family and love.  This isn’t about temporary care but long term adoption into an environment they as human beings deserve to know.  I want to take the challenging stance of saying it’s our job to adopt these children into our families, into our lives.  Millions of underprivileged, uneducated, malnourished individuals are without anyone to take intensive care of them and it’s up to us to take the initiative.

“In you the orphan finds mercy.” – Hosea 14:3

We all came to God as orphans.  Untended, fatherless children and what did he do? Did he donate his old sweaters or send a check to pay for our meal?  God brought us into His life, He completely enveloped us with his love and peace.  He adopted us into His family.  Why should we not turn and do the same?

Adopt the orphans.  End the oppression and hurt and pain that the children are facing.  It isn’t just about helping when you can or donating when it’s easy, but truly stepping into the crisis, and giving these children what they deserve to be apart of.

 

Into the Wild

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Palmer Lake, Colorado

“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure.  The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”- Chris McCandless, Into the Wild 

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, is a book that discusses and explores the ideals of individual free spirit through adventure and isolation, and throughout the book we see that the basis of happiness and true “living” according to protagonist Chris McCandless is in taking such adventures.

Jon Krakauer relays the story of a college graduate who gives up all his possessions, his relationships, his savings, his family, his life- and decides to live and go wherever the wind takes him.  He displays an extreme example of leaving and living away from the things of man, living with nature, and letting nature provide what he needed.  From hitchhiking to California, to paddling the canals in Mexico, to sleeping in a free trailer, McCandless is the epitome of a free spirit and Krakauer worships and admires this lifestyle regardless of its tragic outcome.  Though McCandless died in his attempt at living away from civilization, Krakauer writes with a certain awestruck respect for his determination and strong moral fiber.

A wanderer and adventurer himself, Krakauer retells the story of Chris McCandless, along with his own personal experiences.   He writes to the world of unfulfilled individuals, waiting for the spark and initial push to subdue their “itchy feet” and take off and run.

In studying a personal story from high school, his cross-country teammate relays the mindset and spirit behind Chris’s passion for moving.  He led an exercise where the team would run through back streets and unfamiliar surroundings, away from familiar landmarks or recognizable faces.  “The whole idea was to lose our bearings, to push ourselves into unknown territory.  Then we’d run at a slightly slower pace until we found a road we recognized and race home again at full speed.  In a certain sense that’s how McCandless lived his whole life.”  In this excerpt we get to the fundamental motives behind Krakauer’s writing.  He relays that it is important for us to go out and explore, find isolation and thrive in it, but it is also important to come back home.  To maintain relationships, to have community- we as humans still need these things, and although the story of Chris McCandless glorifies leaving it all behind, Krakauer also emphasizes the importance of returning.

To live for adventure, to take time to escape into nature and bring our spirits to peace, but to also return to our lives and communities is essential and how, in the eyes of Krakauer, we can live fulfilled, joyous lives.

Love

IMG_4057 (2)When we think of “living” we think of fulfillment, of how to spend our days in the best possible way to somehow reach this goal of joy and contentment in life.  Since the dawn of time people have searched for the perfect way to fill this hole, how to each live intentionally to find happiness.

If I were to live intentionally, living each and every day to the fullest, how would my life look different?

I want it to be through how I impact the people around me everyday.  If I can be intentional in loving others, in caring for them, and in showing them God’s love through how I treat them then I think even in such small things my life would be more worthwhile.

I tried to find a part to cut out or shorten that would accurately summarize the chapter, but really I think it’s worthwhile to read through the whole of it.


1 Corinthians 13 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Way of Love

13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.


I want to live with this kind of love.  I want to fill my life with this constant, everlasting love and exhibit just a glimpse of how much love we as shown.  Without this, without love, what does my life amount to?

It’s hard.  It’s hard to flip a switch and love unconditionally and it’s hard to apply loving others in this way in everyday life. But if i were to pick how to change my life at this very moment, how i would live from this point on- it would be to live a life full of intentional, unconditional love.

We grow up, we find careers, some become successful and some not as much, but regardless of what stage of life I’m in or what my goals are- if I don’t live a life exhibiting love such as this to the people around me, what do I gain?

There is nothing standing in the way of any of us from pursuing this, there is nothing stopping us from seeking this desire.  There is nothing preventing us from making an impact, nothing holding us back.

To live life to the full through loving relentlessly-to pursue 1 Corinthians 13’s love- that is an intentional life, regardless of what circumstances or people come your way.

 

 

 

Research and Tents

tumblr_n64xrelvxg1qf4t7ho1_1280Most people at some point in their lives have had to build a camping tent.  They all know the decision you have to make before constructing the pile of poles and nylon into a stable place to sleep before the sun goes down.

You must either:

1. Ignore the instructions and plans building a tent requires, going off peer’s opinions/ assumptions, hoping for the best and relying heavily on unidentified information to piece together the parts.

or

2. Open the complex guide identifying the step by step process of piecing the crumpled pile of parts together in a prolonged manner.

Now you could try your best at building the tent based on guesses and opinions, with nothing to check the information used in building it, but it is highly unlikely the tent will come out exactly right.  However, in suffering through the directions and explanations, the tent will always come out how it is supposed to.

The first is lazy and although risky, could get the job done.  The second, although far more tedious, is always a solid foundation to count on.

So it is with research.

We are constantly faced with this decision between quick and easy research and solid trustworthy fact, balancing between just sounding legitimate and truly knowing our own validity.

So why is it important to be the second type of people rather than the first?

Being able to not only back your claims with solid fact but to site them from legitimate sources gives you the credibility necessary for a proper argument.  Without the credibility of the source, without the long-searched for truth, how can anything in your argument be taken seriously?

Yes we can, and do, get away with the bare minimum, risking it by quoting blogs or unidentified websites, but like pitching a tent without instructions, it isn’t stable as something we can depend on.  Yes in the moment it covers us, but we can’t expect our weak sources to hold for long.

Taking the extra time to do research in the proper way and going the extra mile to assure our credibility not only shows we are serious in our discussion, but provides a foundation strong enough to back up our points.  Being confident in our sources makes our argument stronger as well, for we aren’t resting on Wikipedia or Answers.com for evidence that anyone could have manipulated or made up.

No one said reading instructions was fun and no one said doing ethical research was enjoyable either, but if we want our arguments to stand strong and stable, we have to take the necessary steps for that to happen.

Read the instructions, do the research, and you’ll have strong tents and stronger arguments.

 

 

 

May

flowers I cannot tell you how it was,
But this I know: it came to pass
Upon a bright and sunny day
When May was young; ah, pleasant May!
As yet the poppies were not born
Between the blades of tender corn;
The last egg had not hatched as yet,
Nor any bird foregone its mate.

I cannot tell you what it was,
But this I know: it did but pass.

It passed away with sunny May,
Like all sweet things it passed away,
And left me old, and cold, and gray.

Christina Rossetti paints this picture of May and how without her knowing it slipped away before her eyes could catch it.  She speaks of the poppies and birds of the season, and all the sweet things that should have been, but of how she missed them.

Through her three stanzas, she clearly structures the plot of her story.  The first relaying the beauties of May, the second confessing how she had missed them, and the third sorrowfully telling that in missing these pleasures she was left “old, and cold, and gray”.

With its structure and rhyming scheme she flows beautifully between each thought ending lines clearly showing the progression with “sunny May”, “passed away”, and “cold [,] and gray”.  The ease and intentionality of her word choice and placement effectively shows not only the time that passed as she grows older, but that May also grows old and passes away.

Rossetti brings to light how quickly life can pass us by, how precious moments are, and how we mustn’t let them slip away.  The poem in repeating the season passing in the beginning stanza (it came to pass), middle stanza (it did but pass), and end stanza (Like all sweet things it passed away) also communicates that throughout our lives we are always aware of time passing and movement around us, but the problem is in how we use this knowledge to adapt how we choose to live.  I like how she says “like all sweet things it passed away” because of course it is only the dear and sweet things that we wish could have stayed.  It’s the walks in the neighborhood, the familiar smiles and hugs of friends, the little notes and surprise cups of coffee, the leaves in the trees turning from golden to red.

Without these tiny bits of joy, without the overlooked deeds, what is there in life but to deal with work and pay no heed?  Do we grasp on to the beauty in life? Do we remember to cherish the people, places, and experiences we have?

Christina Rossetti beautifully captures this dilemma and the urgency with which we need to live with our eyes open, through her melodic tone and careful structure, showing the grave results of becoming blind to the world around us in the conclusion of her poem.  To become cold and old and gray is not a description in which anyone feels a particular liking.  To be dead to the world and the marvels it throws into our lives, would be to waste the God-given lives we so undeservedly filled.

Drink in the beautiful moments.  Reflect on the wonderful relationships and environments you get to be apart of, before it is too late.

Do not let the sweet things of May pass you by.

 

 

A Good Change

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Kigali, Rwanda

My parents loved to emphasize the phrase that change wasn’t bad, but different.

I of course, in trying to pull off being positive, collected, and excited about whatever new thing they threw at me, decided to embrace this phrase as best I could and it seems to have been branded into my memory ever since.  Regardless of what new uncomfortable situation I was in,  remembering this somewhat triggered my brain into [false] positivity and hope for finding the change to be good.

I thought that since our big transition overseas was long gone, having to remind myself of this phrase wouldn’t be necessary, but during our first Christmas break in the hot of Africa (Kenya and Rwanda), my mind definitely went back to it.

Being away from the cold and [usual] snow for the first time, away from grandparents and Christmas traditions, and away from over-commercialized festivity, at first was a bit hard to grasp.

I could see that the rest of my family secretly felt the same way, as we went about preparing as best we could in the 80 degree Kenyan weather, all trying to brainstorm new Christmas traditions, or manipulate old ones to work in our environment (Yes we did sit around a fire and drink hot chocolate regardless of the heat and mosquitoes).  It turned a bit hopeless but soon felt so ridiculous that it erupted in laughter- and that change in mindset resulted in a wonderful break.

Instead of waking up and watching the snow fall, we woke up and watched the sun rise.  Instead of building snowmen, we built sand castles.  Instead of riding in sleds, we rode in tuk tuks.

What felt like a strange, hot, unwelcome, substitute for Christmas break turned into a happy reminder that Christmas wasn’t about feeling festive or being in the right setting, but a time to celebrate Jesus and spend time with family.  A time to rejoice, and laugh and this break was successful in completing that.

Although I love our old traditions and the homey feeling they bring, I’m okay with our Christmas celebrations changing. They’ve become a good change. 🙂