Poetry: Scribbles and Sylvia Plath

ArielOn a warm and humid afternoon, I sauntered into the public library to admittedly enjoy some cool air-conditioning and also pick up something light to chill out.  I came upon a copy of Sylvia Plath’s “Ariel” because of the beautiful design on the book cover (see picture above) and was pleasantly surprised by a little find inside the book.

Poppies in OctoberHandwritten annotations were left on one of Plath’s famous poems “Poppies in October,” which I fathom were left behind by previous user(s). As much as I do not encourage users of public library to deface their lovely book collection, I am paradoxically digging these scribbles.

These words seem to have added on a touch of personality to the mass-printed literature piece and brought this book to life. I felt like I was having an intellectual exchange of ideas between the anonymous reader and myself, where we got to discuss about various interpretations of the poem.

An intellectual conversation proved to be a marvelous cure for a terrible day and made everything a little bit better.

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18 thoughts on “Poetry: Scribbles and Sylvia Plath

  1. It reminds me of being an English Literature undergraduate – any book you got out of the university library looked like that – all the previous students trying to fathom what was going on in the writing. Sometimes the notes were quite helpful too!

  2. I love this! I kept every copy of a book or play I used in all of my college classes for this very reason. I annotate and make literary scribbles all over. I loved the literary discussion we had in those classes, so I would definitely enjoy picking up a book with someone else’s literary notations within the pages. It really is like having a conversation!

    1. Me too! The books/textbooks that I still have with me tend to be those with the most personal annotations because they feel the most personal to me. To read someone else’s annotations gives the book an extra spark (:

  3. I think seeing someone else’s marginalia in a novel from the library would drive me crazy, but I’m intrigued by the idea of scribbles in poetry books. So much of poetry is about interpretation, and it would be really interesting to see what ideas the poem sparked in someone else’s mind.

    1. I totally agree with you! In this digital age of e-books, to find something handwritten in a library book adds a personal touch to the book and also represents a constant sharing of interpretation and ideas with like-minded people. It makes me feel excited to think about how subsequent readers will respond to the marginalia.

      1. The image of taking notes in Sylvia Plath’s poem. I thought it would match a short story kind of blog post. I will give credits for you for sure

  4. I love this. I have a few school books (Heart of Darkness and The Handmaid’s Tale amongst them) which are covered in at least two other students notes as well as my own. Makes for an interesting interpretation!

    1. These books seem to act as a mini-literary sharing space where layers of interpretation are piled on top of one another. Isn’t it always good to keep our minds open for various interpretations of the same poems? (:

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