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Poem-A-Day

Through Poem-a-Day, we present original, previously unpublished poems by our country's most talented poets throughout the week and classic poems on the weekends. 

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Sylvia Plath Is in Paris with a Balloon on a Long String

About this Poem 

“If we studied the lives of the poets closely, could we begin to see American poetry coming into being? In my book On this Day in Poetry History, forthcoming from Persea Books in 2015, I imagine the history of American poetry as a kind of Google Map, or kinetic diorama, the poets moving toward or away from epiphanies, navigating among odd, compelling moments, and unexpected correspondences. In this case, it’s March 29, 1956, and Plath is in Paris with a balloon.”
Amy Newman

Sylvia Plath Is in Paris with a Balloon on a Long String

Amy Newman

its tricolor streamers floating and trailing.
It takes up the air like a determined child.
Plath was riding her horses of need,
and then breaking them, one by one.
The horse of loneliness, the horse of panic.
The horse of the Sacre Coeur's calcite-and-rainwater white
piped on Montmartre like a wedding cake.
The horse of the wallpaper powdered with rosebuds.
The horse of weeping in the charming vestibule.
The horse of the park’s green geometry,
of the mushroom’s black underpleats.
The horse of the lily-of-the-valley’s chaste bell.
The horse of the prickly thin storm about to be,
of the cool cottons of the hotel bed
and his beautiful body, golden, lean,
and the horse of having been so close,
and then changing his mind.
The horse of her will like a planet, irrefutable,
distantly tethered to the bestial earth, and Paris
splayed and blazing around them, as if illustrated.

Copyright © 2014 by Amy Newman. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2014 by Amy Newman. Used with permission of the author.