Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
An early work that is one of the few life-affirming Plath poems is “Black Rook in Rainy Weather,” a description of a bird in a tree that uses terms of the heavenly (“angels,” “radiance,” and “miracles”) to describe things of this earth. One of the most frequently anthologized early poems, it demonstrates the gift of the visual. Like many of the poems in The Colossus, it is formally controlled. It uses a unique stanza form of five-line stanzas with repeating rhymes of Abcde throughout the poem; off-rhymes are common. (For example, the a-rhymes are “there,” “fire,” “desire,” “chair,” “honor,” “flare,” “fear,” and “occur” from the beginning to the end of the poem.) This pattern helps to convey the impression that this is a diminished world with haphazard arrangements.
Seeing a “wet black rook/ Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain,” the observer reflects that she no longer looks for intention in nature. She no longer believes that there is some kind of “design” in the world, that natural phenomena bear God’s signature. She admits to wanting some kind of communication with the Other: “I desire,/ Occasionally, some backtalk/ From the mute sky.” Yet she is willing to accept the physical delight of the occasional natural revelation in its place, the “minor light” that may transform an ordinary object into a vision: “As if a celestial burning took/...
(The entire section is 417 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
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