Page 49 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

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MIRSKY / ABUSE OF THE HOLOCAUST
41
T h e poem ends with evocations o f the crematoria:
So, so, Herr Doktor,
So, Herr Enemy
. . .
Ash, ash
-
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there
A cake o f soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.
Herr G-d, Herr Lucifer,
Beware
Beware
Out o f the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.
(Ariel, pp. 6, 9)
In “Daddy”, a
cri-de-coeur
o f the painfully destructive relations
between h e r fa ther and herself, Plath again draws on Holocaust
imagery:
I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you.
And the language obscene.
An engine, an engine
Chuffing me o ff like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen
(p. 50)
T he intensity o f despair, the anguish o f soul tha t forged these
lines strike like hammer blows, bu t the resort to Holocaust images
as equations fo r personal anguish and tormen t, no ma tter how
intense, is, I would suggest, a trivialization o f the ineffable experi­
ence. T o rn from the to r tu red soul, these lines o f Sylvia Plath do
not o ffend us, but the level to which such usage can sink is
dem onstrated by Erica Jong . In h er song o f gratitude to “Dear
Anne Sexton,” whose poetry saves h e r from the depressing
rou tine o f life, Jong trills:
On line at the supermarket
Waiting fo r the tally,
The blue numerals
Tattooed