Sylvia Plath and Mitski: death, destruction and bathtubs

Sylvia Plath, « Tale of a Tub »

The photographic chamber of the eye

records bare painted walls, while an electric light

flays the chromium nerves of plumbing raw;

such poverty assaults the ego; caught

naked in the merely actual room,

the stranger in the lavatory mirror

puts on a public grin, repeats our name

but scrupulously reflects the usual terror.


Twenty years ago, the familiar tub

bread an ample batch of omens; but now

water faucets spawn no danger; each crab

and octopus – scrabbling just beyond the view,

waiting for some accidental break

in ritual, to strike – is definitely gone;

the authentic sea denies them and will pluck

fantastic flesh down to the honest bone.


the tub exists behind our back:

its glittering surfaces are blank and true.


In this particular tub, two knees just up

like icebegs, while minute brown hairs rise

on arms and legs in a fringe of kelp; green soap

navigates the tidal slosh of seas

breaking on legendary beaches; in faith

we shall board our imaginary ship and wildly sail

among sacred islands of the mad till death

shatters the fabulous stars and makes us real.


Mitski, « Humpty »

I’ll live in the bathtub

It’s cool and clean

It’s smooth and it’s steady

It’s all that I need


I broke our belongings

They’re all on the floor

The room is now empty

Nothing left to throw


All the eggshells are on the ground

And I try, I’m trying to pick them up

But they crack and crumble, it’s all too much

Too frail for me to touch


I’ll live in the bathtub

Surrounded by tiles

All so square and so steady

I will die in their cool, cool arms