Gentlemen, ladies,

from Sylvia Plath – Lady Lazarus on Rap Genius

Meaning

Jonathan Rosenblatt writes that at this point in the poem Plath “becomes a barker at a striptease show” (from Sylvia Plath: The Poetry of Initiation. 1979)

Arthur Oberg notes the same thing, suggesting that the adoption of a “barkerlike tone…is not accidental. As in "Daddy,” the persona strips herself before the reader … all the time utilizing a cool or slang idiom in order to disguise feeling. Sylvia Plath borrowed from a sideshow or vaudeville world the respect for virtuosity which the performer must acquire, for which the audience pays and never stops paying. Elsewhere in her work, she admired the virtuosity of the magician’s unflinching girl or of the unshaking tattoo artist. Here, in “Lady Lazarus,” it is the barker and the striptease artist who consume her attention.“ (From Modern American Lyric: Lowell, Berryman, Creeley,-and Plath. 1978)

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