Sylvia Plath

Hardcastle Crags

Flintlike, her feet struck Such a racket of echoes from the steely street, Tacking in moon-blued crooks from the black Stone-built town, that she heard the quick air ignite Its tinder and shake A firework of echoes from wall To wall of the dark, dwarfed cottages. But the echoes died at her back as the walls Gave way to fields and the incessant seethe of grasses Riding in the full Of the moon, manes to the wind, Tireless, tied, as a moon-bound sea Moves on its root. Though a mist-wraith wound Up from the fissured valley and hung shoulder-high Ahead, it fattened To no family-featured ghost, Nor did any word body with a name The blank mood she walked in. Once past The dream-peopled village, her eyes entertained no dream, And the sandman's dust Lost luster under her footsoles. The long wind, paring her person down To a pinch of flame, blew its burdened whistle In the whorl of her ear, and like a scooped-out pumpkin crown Her head cupped the babel. All the night gave her, in return For the paltry gift of her bulk and the beat Of her heart was the humped indifferent iron Of its hills, and its pastures bordered by black stone set On black stone. Barns Guarded broods and litters Behind shut doors; the dairy herds Knelt in the meadow mute as boulders; Sheep drowsed stoneward in their tussocks of wool, and birds, Twig-sleep, wore Granite ruffs, their shadows The guise of leaves. The whole landscape Loomed absolute as the antique world was Once in its earliest sway of lymph and sap, Unaltered by eyes, Enough to snuff the quick Of her small heat out, but before the weight Of stones and hills of stones could break Her down to mere quartz grit n that stony light She turned back.

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