Black Rook in Rainy Weather

by Sylvia Plath

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What is the meaning of "Black Rook in Rainy Weather"?

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In the beautiful poem "Black Rook in Rainy Weather," Sylvia Plath observes the miracle of creativity. It's not so much about noticing miracles around us for their own sake, but for what we can glean from them as artists. As a poet, she is taking a walk, not expecting anything, but hoping to "patch together a content of sorts." She is searching for the miracle of inspiration.

When Plath starts out, she writes that she does not expect a miracle as she watches the black rook preening on a stiff twig. She watches impartially, letting "spotted leaves fall as they fall, without ceremony, or portent." However, she clarifies that she desires "some backtalk from the mute sky." The word mute means unable to speak. She is saying that she goes forth expecting nothing, but hoping that somehow she will glimpse the miracle of a "celestial burning" that will give additional meaning to ordinary things such as the rook on a twig, or even a kitchen table or chair.

"I now walk wary," she says. Wary means alert and attentive. She is "skeptical"; in other words, one part of her thinks that nothing extraordinary can happen. However, the part of her that is searching for miracles knows that even a rook putting its black feathers in order can suddenly shine with radiance.

In the end, she leaves doubt with the reader as to whether these miracles are subjective or objective. She says that "miracles occur" but that they may be merely "spasmodic tricks of radiance." Still, she continues to wait for them.

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It is about noticing the miracles around us, though you might search your whole life for them and not see them, they do, it seems, exist, and Plath seems to think the search for them is worth it- "the long wait for the angel,/ For that rare, random descent" can  give meaning to life.

The irony is that you might miss these small miracles if you are looking for something transcendent- the beauty of life is found in "spasmodic...[t]ricks of radiance." For more information, see this summary:

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