Price's attitude to his poetry was not unlike that of Sylvia Plath's. He saw himself as an artisan. He was an artisan with an idea. All of his poems began with an idea, a concept, a something; at worst the beginning of a poem was what Roger White called a poor connection on a telephone line. But it was a connection. Sometimes the connection was sharp and clear. He was happy to flow down whatever river the water was willing to go down, to make whatever product he could make, as long as it exhausted all his ingenuity in the process, as long as the water flowed to the sea becoming part of that great body of life. Sometimes Price's poetry was confessional, showed the indictment of immediate experience. Some of his work was what Robert Lowell once described, in reference to the poetry written in the last year of Plath's life, as the autobiography of a fever--given Lowell's bi-polar disorder and his experience of it in extremis---fever is an appropriate word. Sometimes Price would disappear into his poem and become one with it. In poetry Price found his life could defeat the process of easy summary. -Ron Price with thanks to Stanley Plumly, "What Ceremony of Words," Ariel Ascending: Writings About Sylvia Plath, editor, Paul Alexander, Harper & Row, NY, 1985, pp.13-17.
You were always an intruder, then,
in the natural world, self-conscious,
uneasy, an unreal relation to the grass,
better to withdraw, you thought,
and did, right out of it into oblivion.1
I've earned my place, especially now,
after all these years; there's a sacredness
here and in the grass; there's a glory
in this day, the day in which the fragrances
of mercy have been wafted over all things2
and there is the in-dwelling God
to counter the scorn, contempt,
bitterness and cynicism
that fills the space and time
of so many of the spaces
of modern life.
Part of the entire stream, the river of life;
part of a global sanctification,
far from any emotional cul-de-sac,
any bell jar, close to truth's irrefutable
and exciting drama, but far, far
from the Inaccessible, the Unsearchable,
the Incomprehensible: no man can sing
that which he understandeth not.3
I belong here, Sylvia,
in this incredible universe.
I was just getting launched
when you were bowing out;
you'd been trying to bow out since 19534
when I'd just breathed the first words
and the Kingdom of God on earth
had begun in all its glorious unobtrusiveness.
1 Sylvia Plath's suicide in 1962
2 Baha'u'llah, Tablet of Carmel.
3 Baha'u'llah, Baha'i Prayers, p.121.
4 Plath's first attempt at suicide was in 1953.
23 February 2000
I'd like to think that one day I might have some of the experience that Thomas Carlyle had back in 1866, as the very outset of a new Revelation that Carlyle had absolutely no awareness of in the England of his home. In that year, two months after the death of his wife, he was reading some of her letters from the year 1857. He said he found in those "dear records a piercing radiancy of meaning." Carlyle wanted his own letters preserved as a record of his life so that his record would be "as full as possible."
Carlyle writes eloquently concerning the value of letters, the careful preservation of them, the authentic presentation of them and an adequate elucidation of them by future critics. In this age of speed, of the email, of the burgeoning of communication in all its forms, I hesitate to wax enthusiastic about the value of letters. Instead I simply leave them for a future generation and wait to see what those mysterious dispensations of Providence will bring. So much of life is waiting. Indeed, as one definition of faith I always liked put it: faith is the patience to wait.
That's all folks!