Page 118 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 54

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Mirsky
110
In “Daddy”, a
cri-de-coeur
of the painfully destructive relations
between her father 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 off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen (p. 50)
The intensity of despair, the anguish of soul that forged these
lines strike like hammer blows, but the resort to Holocaust images
as equations for personal anguish and torment, no matter how in­
tense, is, I would suggest, a trivialization of the ineffable experi­
ence. Torn from the tortured soul, these lines of Sylvia Plath do
not offend us, but the level to which such usage can sink is demon­
strated by Erica Jong. In her song of gratitude to “Dear Anne Sex­
ton,” whose poetry saves her from the depressing routine of life,
Jong trills:
On line at the supermarket
Waiting for the tally,
The blue numerals
Tattooed
On the white skins
O f paper, I read your open book
O f folly
And take heart
Poet o f my heart (Loveroot, pp. 30 -31)
The ennui and boredom which the shopping housewife feels,
equated with the suffering of concentration camp inmate, is a dis­
turbing demonstration of how far this trivialization can be carried.
In her latest self-indulgence,
How To Save Your Own Life
(1977),