Lady Lazarus is a violent poem, if poems can be described as violent. It is one of the most famous poems by Sylvia Plath. For my Classics Club list, I do not only read novels, but other classics as well, like poetry. I have read The Bell Jar and thought it was fantastic. I could have re-read The Bell Jar, but my interest in poetry is growing and my affection for Sylvia Plath's only novel has never waned. I knew that Plath's poetry was going to be rich and deep.
Lady Lazarus is a dark poem, full of visceral emotion. Plath uses Nazism as a metaphor for oppression. The speaker feels watched, studied; she isn't free. As the poem's title evokes, there is death and rebirth. "The sour breath/Will vanish in a day." There's exposure, nakedness in the rebirth. She feels at home in the earth and wants to stay there.
The oppression throughout the poem connected to me. I appreciate poetry that has a story to it. Though subtle, there is a story here. The speaker talks about each of her deaths and the value that others place on her. By the end of the poem the speaker finds her strength. She warns the doctors who keep bringing her back, she "will eat men like air."
Reading Lady Lazarus has definitely made me interested in reading more of Plath's poetry. Lady Lazarus is part of Ariel, Plath's collection of poetry, published posthumously by her husband. It is said to be her definitive work and if the other poems in Ariel are anything like Lady Lazarus, I can see why. In one poem, I was saddened, moved, and given hope.