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Analysis and comments on Black Rook In Rainy Weather by Sylvia Plath

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Comment 5 of 485, added on November 16th, 2005 at 3:05 AM.

The main feeling I got from this poem was the desire Sylvia Plath had for
moments of meaning, moments of insight and and inspiration. Sylvia was a
woman who lived on writing, a vast majority of this i think, confessional
poerty. She was a woman who lived by writing in poetry about her feelings,
her experiences, her thoughts and moods. She expressed herself through her
poetry. The main idea that was presented to me from this poem was Sylvia
lived, stayed, for the moments of inspiration. She could not survive on
just the ordinary, just the nice and simple, or as she saw it mundane. She
needed moments of understanding, she needed more than normal, more than
what she saw as mediocrity almost. She needed inspiration, or she felt
that life was barren. This poem was almost a fight with herself, at the
beginning she denies the fact that she is waiting for something, "I do not
expect a miracle, or an accident." She is trying to kid herself, trying to
control her impulses and wants. She says "Let spotted leaves fall as they
fall, without ceremony or portent," which is metaphorically her saying "I
will just let things be, not try to change or act, or want more." The
large BUT comes through however, when she talks of how she desires some
backtalk from the mute sky. She can't control herself, even when she tries
and wants to. She can't reatin that normalcy, that lack of control and
longing. From that point onwards her denail slips away slowly, and she
speaks only of the inspiration she is looking for, of "whatever angel may
choose to flare. She finally finds that moment she's been waiting for, of
understanding, of almost momentary fulfillment. The trouble is, she knows
it's just momentary. She knows soon enough she will descend to that low
mood, and that she will once again have to wait for another moment of

laura from Australia
Comment 4 of 485, added on November 5th, 2005 at 10:52 AM.

In an age without many superstitions, we look to nature and the world
around us for an explanation of our lives; in any event, we see only
science's cause and effect--life is merely the combination of chemicals in
the correct amounts, leaves fall because of the natural processes
associated with the changing of the seasons, and a black rook arranges its
feathers in the rain . . . it's all natural and easily explained by
science. But there are many things that science cannot explain, and many
longings that it will never satisfy: it cannot explain our emotions--why a
particular sight or smell causes inspiration, nostalgia, or dread; it
cannot explain our longing for the supernatural; it cannot explain our need
for significance, nor can science give us significance. To science, leaves
fall because they fall, lovely but useless, wasted. And even if scientists
manage to isolate the chemicals that produce emotions, their explanation
removes the wonder of the event without truly explaining it. For we are
human, and we will always feel deep down inside that there must be more to
life than merely what we can see and what science can tell us. Whether or
not science agrees with us, we know that miracles do occur; and we long for
The good news is that there is one person that can explain life in its
entirety, infusing it with hope, purpose, and significance. He leaves no
room for superstition; he allows science its proper place; yet he satisfies
the soul with the miraculous. There is only one person out of the many
people in the world--past, present, and future--who can do this: He is not
bound by finite limitations. His name is Jesus Christ, the only wise God,
the one who created the world and holds it together by the word of his
power. Knowing him puts life into perspective and satisfies the soul,
freeing us both from superstitious fears and from a sense of
insignificance. To him all things are significant. Do you know him?

J. Camburn from United States
Comment 3 of 485, added on October 29th, 2005 at 11:38 PM.

I see this rather more literally than others might; I've actually felt
these moments Sylvia was describing. These are the times when life is not
lived in shades of gray, when existence is not measured just by the sordid
details of human existence. Suddenly, something changes the way you see the
most mundane object, and there it is: the possibility of more, that what
you believe to be truth is not really all there is.

I stumbled across this poem wholly by accident. It was the first return on
my search for "feathers finding portent." I feel that Sylvia, like me,
spent her life waiting for meaning, hoping for something more than the
"brief respite...from total neutrality." For the "rare, random descent" of
an angel, for "some backtalk from the mute sky." Perhaps what doomed Sylvia
was her inability to neither fully believe in miracles, nor to disbelieve.

W. Whether from United States
Comment 2 of 485, added on September 21st, 2005 at 3:38 PM.

i now u may not all agree with me but i feel that she was crying for help
through her poems but nobody was there to help her and that is why she died
so young. the reason i believe this is because "rook"= a crow like bird
(repersenting death), Angel (angel of death)

jordyn from United States
Comment 1 of 485, added on November 13th, 2004 at 9:47 PM.

This amazing poem is one of a handful of poems that I have committed to
memory, because it vividly captures the act of writing poetry. It speaks
of that moment of inspiration, when a black rook seizes the poet's senses,
"hauls her eyelids up" and "grants a brief respite from fear of total
neutrality." It is the moment that "a celestial burning" takes place and
an "angel" descends, "that rare, random descent" when the poet is inspired
by a common thing--a "kitchen table or chair," a "rook ordering its
feathers," or "the most obtuse objects now and then." It is interesting
that Plath uses the language of spirituality--angels, "celestial burning,"
"hallowing," "miracles"--given her apparent atheism ("I do not expect ...
miracle to set the sight on fire in my eyes, nor seek any more in the
desultory weather some design. . . ."). It is clear that poetry is all
that she has to keep her from complete despair--a despair that, we know,
managed to overtake her when she took her life: "With luck, trekking
stubborn through this season of fatigue, I shall patch together a content
of sorts." The poet is confined to waiting for these random moments of
inspiration---"those spasmodic tricks of radiance"-- that provide for her
the energy to keep going. The poem beautifully captures what poetry meant
to Plath; the brutal honesty of it strips the act of writing to its bare
essentials--that amazing moment all poets wait for, the moment of
inspiration, when suddenly something is illuminated, and all there is to do
is to write a poem about it, to capture that moment in language, to
commemorate that blissful interval when they become a vehicle for
transcendence. This is a poem that all poets should memorize, as it speaks
directly to them, and for them.

Richard Smyth from United States

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Information about Black Rook In Rainy Weather

Poet: Sylvia Plath
Poem: Black Rook In Rainy Weather
Volume: The Collected Poems
Year: 1956
Added: Feb 20 2003
Viewed: 20862 times
Poem of the Day: Aug 21 2009

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