Contrasting poems on the balance between living and dying

Here are two contrasting poems that weigh the balance between living and dying, one with light wit, the other with dark passion.    

The first is from the 1920s, Dorothy Parker’s Résumé:

Razors pain you,
Rivers are damp,
Acids stain you,
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful,
Nooses give,
Gas smells awful.
You might as well live.

The second is from the 1960s, Sylvia Plath’s Lady Lazarus. This poem is best listened tohere. I don’t think you’ll forget it. It was recorded just before she killed herself.  

One more from Dorothy Parker, Coincidences:

By the time you swear you’re his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying –
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying. 

Poems such as these teach us much about emotions.

One thought on “Contrasting poems on the balance between living and dying

  1. These poems provide a glimpse of the terrible pain that is the human experience-one shrugging the experience off, the other consumed by it. What strikes me is the incredible courage poets and writers must have in order to expose this raw emotion. Both of these women battled depression and suicide attempts-Parker able to recover, Plath unable to transcend the darkness consuming her. Plath’s prose are dark, uncomfortable and evoke images that make my skin itch. We, the “peanut-crunching” spectators, reap the benefit from these displays of literary raw emotion, safe behind the pages or our computers. These poems do teach us about emotions, emotions that I am fearful of exploring-exposing the sole and the darkness that may exist there. But then again, perhaps I am fearful for nothing? From Parker I think we can learn that we take ourselves too seriously; not to say that mental illness shouldn’t be taken seriously-it must. But for those of us who aren’t battling at this particular time need to ensure that we are realistic in our assessment of our own situation.

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