23 Poems Before I Turn 23 Challenge: Soliloquy of the Solipsist

Poem number 2

Soliloquy of the Solipsist by Sylvia Plath

I have been in love with Sylvia Plath ever since I listened to The Bell Jar audio book, right before bedtime everyday for a fortnight. Her words have caressed my soul and there are few with whom I could identify more. It probably wound’t be considered too socially acceptable, or for a matter of fact sane, but I have gone through almost every emotion that has been captivated by Sylvia in The Bell Jar and I cannot put to words how accurate her expressions and metaphors have been. The beauty of the darkness in her life is baffling and awing at the same time.

I stumbled upon this poem recently and was, yet again, baffled by the preciseness of her words. The ideology of the poem is what I have been breathing by for quite some time now.

The Poem:

I?
I walk alone;
The midnight street
Spins itself from under my feet;
When my eyes shut
These dreaming houses all snuff out;
Through a whim of mine
Over gables the moon’s celestial onion
Hangs high.

I
Make houses shrink
And trees diminish
By going far; my look’s leash
Dangles the puppet-people
Who, unaware how they dwindle,
Laugh, kiss, get drunk,
Nor guess that if I choose to blink
They die.

I
When in good humor,
Give grass its green
Blazon sky blue, and endow the sun
With gold;
Yet, in my wintriest moods, I hold
Absolute power
To boycott any color and forbid any flower
To be.

I
Know you appear
Vivid at my side,
Denying you sprang out of my head,
Claiming you feel
Love fiery enough to prove flesh real,
Though it’s quite clear
All you beauty, all your wit, is a gift, my dear,
From me.

My Thoughts:

I feel this poem is somewhat related to existentialism much imbibed by writers like Albert Camus. Plath knows it is she who gives any person or thing the power to be who he/she/it is by seeing it that way. It is her own perception that makes things out to be what they are rather than their own qualities. To interpret it deeply, she feels that she herself is the ultimate truth in the universe and every other human being or thing is just an extension of her vision and mind, rather than having an existence of its own. This is the philosophy that I have been living by recently: it is me who gives anybody the power to hurt me or make me happy or affect me in any way and I have the ultimate control over how I feel or how I want my life to be. I’ve started caring less about other people and more about my own happiness and if that makes me sound shallow, so be it. For it is I who have to deal with the broken pieces at 3 am after I cannot possibly go to sleep because my mind won’t shut up and my eyes won’t stop bleeding. I’m the only one who has ever been there for me through thick and thin and so, I will do what will help me keep myself together when the storm is trying to tear me apart. I have to look out for myself because no one else really cares.

Plath embodies this chain of thought spectacularly. As she walks in her solitude through the street, she realizes that she controls her life and can alter it as she wishes, because she is the only thing that is real. She can turn the road she walks on into nothingness by closing her eyes. She controls how people appear to her, and one decision of her will can kill them all for her, metaphorically. It is only when she is happy that the world’s true colours are visible, and it is completely in her power to turn the world into monotone when sorrows envelope her. The world changes according to what she feels, because she is the only thing in the world that is absolutely real. Her world revolves around her and nothing else matters to her.

Towards the end, Sylvia mentions a lover who believes that his love makes him real to her. But Sylvia slyly retorts that it is her own perception that makes her lover worthy of her love, for she sees him that way. So he too is a figment of her imagination and fancy. This makes me think of Margo from Paper Towns by John Green and her theory that people believe the person they love to be more than that person actually is because of their feelings. Their own perception clouds the truth, of which Sylvia Plath is well aware.

So now I’m left with 21 poems and 34 days.

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