Kitty and Sylvia

A strange thing happened tonight.

I was cooking, and Kitty (now 21 months old) brought out ‘Ariel’, a book of poems by Sylvia Plath, that she had found in the lounge room, in a box of packed up books (we have recently moved back into our house after a three month renovation, and so all our books are still in boxes). She carried it through the kitchen and over to the little white table near the back door that she likes to sit at. She leafed slowly through a few of the pages, then stood up, and walked across the room, opened the door of her toy oven, shoved the book in, closed the door again, and walked out of the room.

Now if you find yourself wondering what is so strange about this, then it is probably because you don’t know how Sylvia Plath killed herself (though you can probably guess now), or that this book of poems was published shortly after her death.

My fear is that this little sequence of actions is Sylvia Plath’s way of letting me know that she has taken possession of Kitty’s body. Or perhaps it is that Kitty is the reincarnation of Sylvia Plath. I certainly hope that my fear is unfounded, because that woman (talented though she was) had some serious issues with her father – the kind I definitely don’t want to create in either of my girls. You get a sense of how serious when you realise that, arguably, her most famous poem of all is called ‘Daddy’, and it definitely ain’t a glowing eulogy or nothin’ (it’s here if you want to read it in full).

Now when I was a younger man, I used to write poetry (or something closely resembling poetry, at least) and so for my 18th birthday, I think it was, my sister bought me a book of poems called, appropriately enough, ‘Birthday Letters’. The book was by Ted Hughes, and the poems were all about Sylvia Plath, who was his wife from 1956 until her death in 1963 – though they were separated by the time she died.

As a spooky aside, I just found out now (on the Wikipedia) that Ted and Sylvia actually got married on my birthday. In other words, my sister gave me a book called ‘Birthday Letters’ for my birthday, written by a man about a woman who he had married…on my birthday! It’s starting to feel more and more like Kitty is the reincarnation of Sylvia Plath (they were both born in late October (Kitty the 21st and Sylvia the 27th), and you know how similar one and seven can look – especially the way Kitty writes them. But anyway…

…I loved ‘Birthday Letters’, so much so that I kept trying to write song lyrics based on my favourites. I only managed to finish one. I can’t remember the name of the poem itself, and I can’t locate the book because it is at the bottom of a different box of yet-to-be-unpacked books (out of sensitivity to Sylvia I would never put the two books in the same box) – so I can’t quote you the poem, but I can quote my song. It turned out not to be about Sylvia at all, but that is a different story.

It is called ‘Bullet’ (I wish I could embed the song for you to listen to, but I’ve never recorded it, and I’ve blown the headphone jack in my iMac, so I can’t even do a rough recording.) Anyway, it goes like this…


I think it was your father who aimed you at God.

When he died he pulled the trigger that set you off.

Your whole life has been a ricochet from one man to the next.

Each one died on impact, shot through the heart.


Solid steel, nickel tipped, forty-five, straight through the heart


It wasn’t for a long time I even knew I’d been hit.

That you’d passed straight through me to the heart of it.

In my place a better man would have caught you in his bare hands,

And tossed you cooling to the ground.


Solid steel, nickel tipped, forty-five, straight through the heart


Then I think how you’re not like her.

Yeah, I think how you’re not like her.

With your dead eyes and dress of fire,

Sliding slowly to the floor.


They say they travel faster than the speed of sound,

So you don’t hear the one that gets you ‘til you’re on the ground.

All I wanted was to be a man – to love a woman who I didn’t understand.

Now it’s too late. Now it’s too late.


Solid steel, nickel tipped, forty-five, straight through the heart

(two weeks later)

After I read over the lyrics of the song, I realised that, like most song lyrics, they didn’t seem quite as ‘powerful’ out of the context of the song itself, which made me hesitant to post it. Then the other day, it occurred to me that I could download Garageband as an app to our iPad and use that as my recording device. So I did exactly that, and yesterday recorded a very rough version, with a dinky drum loop and a single vocal take (you can tell because I fluff the lines in the last verse). Anyway, here it is. Feel free to read the lyrics again as you listen and experience the added angst and profundity…

So it turns out that after months of ‘blogger block’ I finally have a new muse, little Kitty. And if it does turn out that she is in fact Sylvia Plath II (or is it III?), then one day, I guess, I will probably be hers. It’s a sobering thought.

Note: At one point I thought of calling this post ‘Amusing Musings on Muses’, but then it occurred to me that I actually wanted people to read it.






This entry was posted in Music, parenting and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Kitty and Sylvia

  1. veryspeedy says:

    Welcome back. With a bullet…

  2. Matti says:

    Damn, but that’s good.

  3. Love the muse and the musings

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