Sylvia Plath

Yadwigha, On A Red Couch, Among Lillies

Yadwigha, the literalists once wondered how you Came to be lying on this baroque couch Upholstered in red velvet, under the eye Of uncaged tigers and a tropical moon, Set in intricate wilderness of green Heart-shaped leaves, like catalpa leaves, and lillies Of monstrous size, like no well-bred lilies It seems teh consistent critics wanted you To choose between your world of jungle green And the fashionable monde of the red couch With its prim bric-à-brac, without a moon To turn you luminous, without the eye Of tigers to be stilled by your dark eye And body whiter than its frill of lilies: They'd have had yellow silk screening the moon, Leaves and lilies flattened to paper behind you Or, at most, to a mille-fleurs tapestry. But the couch Stood stubborn in it's jungle: red against green, Red against fifty variants of green, The couch glared out at the prosaic eye. So Rousseau, to explain why the red couch Persisted in the picture with the lilies, Tigers, snakes, and the snakecharmer and you, And birds of paradise, and the round moon, Described how you fell dreaming at full of moon On a red velvet couch within your green- Tessellared boudoir. Hearing flutes, you Dreamed yourself away in the moon's eye To a beryl jungle, and dreamed that bright moon-lilies Nodded their petaled heads around your couch. And that, Rousseau told the critics, was why the couch Accompanied you. So they nodded at the couch with the moon And the snakecharmer's song and the gigantic lilies, Marvelingly numbered the many shades of green. But to a friend, in private, Rousseau confessed his eye So possessed by the glowing red of the couch which you, Yadwigha, pose on, that he put you on the couch To feed his eye with red, such red! under the moon, In the midst of all that green and those great lilies!

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