Lady Lazarus (the poem)

by Sylvia Plath

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  

O 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.


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  



Out of the ash

I rise with my red hair  

And I eat men like air.

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