I have done it again. One year in every ten I manage it---- A sort of walking miracle, my skin Bright as a Nazi lampshade, My right foot A paperweight, My face a featureless, fine Jew linen. Peel off the napkin 0 my enemy. Do I terrify?---- The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth? The sour breath Will vanish in a day. Soon, soon the flesh The grave cave ate will be At home on me And I a smiling woman. I am only thirty. And like the cat I have nine times to die. This is Number Three. What a trash To annihilate each decade. What a million filaments. The peanut-crunching crowd Shoves in to see Them unwrap me hand and foot The big strip tease. Gentlemen, ladies These are my hands My knees. I may be skin and bone, Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman. The first time it happened I was ten. It was an accident. The second time I meant To last it out and not come back at all. I rocked shut As a seashell. They had to call and call And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls. Dying Is an art, like everything else, I do it exceptionally well. I do it so it feels like hell. I do it so it feels real. I guess you could say I've a call. It's easy enough to do it in a cell. It's easy enough to do it and stay put. It's the theatrical Comeback in broad day To the same place, the same face, the same brute Amused shout: 'A miracle!' That knocks me out. There is a charge For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge For the hearing of my heart---- It really goes. And there is a charge, a very large charge For a word or a touch Or a bit of blood Or a piece of my hair or my clothes. So, so, Herr Doktor. So, Herr Enemy. I am your opus, I am your valuable, The pure gold baby That melts to a shriek. I turn and burn. Do not think I underestimate your great concern. Ash, ash --- You poke and stir. Flesh, bone, there is nothing there---- A cake of soap, A wedding ring, A gold filling. Herr God, Herr Lucifer Beware Beware. Out of the ash I rise with my red hair And I eat men like air.
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- by Sylvia Plath (1932 - 1963), "Lady Lazarus", appears in Ariel, first published 1965 [author's text checked 1 time against a primary source]
Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):
- by Robin Holloway (b. 1943), "Lady Lazarus", op. 9 no. 1 (1967) [ speaker, small men's chorus, and instrumental ensemble ], from Melodrama on Three Poems by Sylvia Plath, no. 1 [sung text not yet checked]
- by Aribert Reimann (b. 1936), "Lady Lazarus", 1992 [ soprano and piano ], confirmed with a CD booklet [sung text checked 1 time]
- by Ned Rorem (b. 1923), "Lady Lazarus", published 1974 [ soprano, clarinet, and piano ], from Ariel: Five Poems of Sylvia Plath, no. 5 [sung text not yet checked]
Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
This text was added to the website: 2007-12-14
Line count: 84
Word count: 410