“Polly’s Tree” by Sylvia Plath (Favorite Poem Project)


I discovered this poem called “Polly’s Tree” by
Sylvia Plath when I was on tour with my band up in Maine. I had made a new friend who had recently lost her boyfriend.
And we were talking about grieving the loss of loved ones. And I had a sister named Polly who I just lost a few months previously to an
asthma attack. It was amazing how much the words reminded me of her. It does really seem to describe that beautiful and really quite
luminous pastel that Polly had done not too long before her death, which my husband, Martin, and
I watched her create, and it just happened. It just like, in the poem said something about it sprung from her pillow,
and that’s what it was like when we watched her create this thing. That as if it were just born. It was so beautiful it took us so much, both Sara and I, it hit us
so strongly, and we wanted immediately to bring it home and frame it. And then when Jake read that poem five, six years later, it was almost as
if the poem was written to instruct or to inform Polly about the painting and that the painting was a necessary event in the life of Polly
to allow us to have that as a talisman for life. “Polly’s Tree” by Sylvia Plath A dream tree, Polly’s tree: /
a thicket of sticks, /
each speckled twig / ending in a thin-paned /
leaf unlike any /
other on it / or in a ghost flower /
flat as paper and /
of a color / vaporish as frost-breath, /
more finical than /
any silk fan / that Chinese ladies use /
to stir robin’s egg /
air. The silver- / haired seed of the milkweed /
comes to roost there, frail /
as the halo / rayed round a candle flame, /
a will-o’-the-wisp /
nimbus, or puff / of cloud-stuff, tipping her /
queer candelabrum. /
Palely lit by / snuff-ruffed dandelions, /
white daisy wheels and /
a tiger faced / pansy, it glows. O it’s /
no family tree, /
Polly’s tree, nor / a tree of heaven, though /
it marry quartz-flake, /
feather and rose. / It sprang from her pillow /
whole as a cobweb /
ribbed like a hand, / a dream tree. Polly’s tree /
wears a valentine /
arc of tear-pearled / bleeding hearts on its sleeve /
and, crowning it, one /
blue larkspur star.

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