Sylvia Plath, “Nick and the Candlestick”

To read Robert Pinsky’s post on “Nick and the Candlestick,” visit the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet Blog. Then join our discussion below.

Virtuosity, sheer eloquence, in great work has its own meanings: in the best Shakespeare sonnets, as a kind of sexual display or gift to the courted person, with the acrobatic wit amplifying courtship with excellence. In Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” the verbal richness is like the banner or ceremonial sword of acknowledged mortality, establishing the tragic beauty of individual, conscious creatures who die. In Elizabeth Bishop’s “In the Waiting Room,” the poem’s verbal fluency, like superfine oil penetrating rock, emphasizes how imagination enters every experience, presiding over ordinary life simultaneously with “rivulets of fire.” . . . (cont.)

See the Favorite Poem Project video of Plath’s poem, read by Seph Rodney.

This forum will take up a new poem each month, with the next poem appearing near the end of October. Stay tuned!

81 thoughts on “Sylvia Plath, “Nick and the Candlestick”

  1. Robert, thanks for re-establishing the discussion pages here.
    In the past, I used the Slate discussions to help my students at CSU-Dominguez Hills write their first papers, and now I can’t find those discussions over at Slate. I saw in your last Slate piece that those discussions would be archived over here, but I’m not finding them. Could you (or someone) point me to them? Thanks, and thanks again for leading these talks.

    • Randy, we will be continuing the discussions here at the Poetry Forum. Sadly, the Fray discussions seem to be lost– a shock I’m trying to put behind me by making something good here.

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