Dialogue Between
Ghost and Priest

Poem by Sylvia Plath

Dialogue Between Ghost and Priest - Poem by Sylvia Plath

Dialogue Between Ghost and Priest

In the rectory garden on his evening walk
Paced brisk Father Shawn. A cold day, a sodden one it was
In black November. After a sliding rain
Dew stood in chill sweat on each stalk,
Each thorn; spiring from wet earth, a blue haze
Hung caught in dark-webbed branches like a fabulous heron.

Hauled sudden from solitude,
Hair prickling on his head,
Father Shawn perceived a ghost
Shaping itself from that mist.

'How now,' Father Shawn crisply addressed the ghost
Wavering there, gauze-edged, smelling of woodsmoke,
'What manner of business are you on?
From your blue pallor, I'd say you inhabited the frozen waste
Of hell, and not the fiery part. Yet to judge by that dazzled look,
That noble mien, perhaps you've late quitted heaven?'

In voice furred with frost,
Ghost said to priest:
'Neither of those countries do I frequent:
Earth is my haunt.'

'Come, come,' Father Shawn gave an impatient shrug,
'I don't ask you to spin some ridiculous fable
Of gilded harps or gnawing fire: simply tell
After your life's end, what just epilogue
God ordained to follow up your days. Is it such trouble
To satisfy the questions of a curious old fool?'

'In life, love gnawed my skin
To this white bone;
What love did then, love does now:
Gnaws me through.'

'What love,' asked Father Shawn, 'but too great love
Of flawed earth-flesh could cause this sorry pass?
Some damned condition you are in:
Thinking never to have left the world, you grieve
As though alive, shriveling in torment thus
To atone as shade for sin that lured blind man.'

'The day of doom
Is not yest come.
Until that time
A crock of dust is my dear hom.'

'Fond phantom,' cried shocked Father Shawn,
'Can there be such stubbornness-
A soul grown feverish, clutching its dead body-tree
Like a last storm-crossed leaf? Best get you gone
To judgment in a higher court of grace.
Repent, depart, before God's trump-crack splits the sky.'

From that pale mist
Ghost swore to priest:
'There sits no higher court
Than man's red heart.'
Poem by Sylvia Plath

So, so, break off this last lamenting kiss,
Which sucks two souls, and vapours both away,
Turn thou ghost that way, and let me turn this,
And let our selves benight our happiest day.
- Quote by John Donne

The pencil of the Holy Ghost hath
labored more in describing the afflictions
of Job than the felicities of Solomon.
- Quote by Francis Bacon Sr.

The internal dialogue is what
grounds people in the daily world.
The world is such and such or so
and so, only because we talk
to ourselves about its being such
and such and so and so.
The passageway into the world
of shamans opens up after
the warrior has learned to shut
off his internal dialogue.
- Quote by Carlos Castaneda

Unhand me, gentlemen, By heaven!
I'll make a ghost of him that lets me.
- Quote by William Shakespeare

There exist only three
beings worthy of respect:
the priest, the soldier, the poet.
To know, to kill, to create.
- Quote by Charles Baudelaire

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Dialogue Between Ghost and Priest - Poem by Sylvia Plath


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