Extra-terrestrial Report – Michael Thwaites

Extra-terrestrial Report

Arrived at the heavenly mansions, the blessed Saint
(female on earth) was welcomed by St Peter
enquiring whom she most desired to meet.
Mother Mary? Positively no problem;
Let me conduct you. Presently, bathed in bliss,
they sat together, in light and joy and fun.
The Saint was charmed. Mother, how can it be –
you so divine, yet still so down-to-earth?
I don’t forget; and here I have my Son –
As a sword pierced my soul, he from the Cross
gave me in tender care to his dear friend,
my Son, my Son.
Yet there, as you have read,
he learned obedience by the things he suffered:
So did we all…
The Saint took courage, asked,
diffidently bold, Those pictures we so loved –
the Babe and you adoring: did we catch
ever a trace of not-quite-perfect joy?
Mother Mary twinkled – I was young:
I’d really wanted a girl.

Michael Thwaites

A novel theme for a poem and of course there are many departed souls where it would be entertaining to have a make-belief conversation – to really find out from the horse’s mouth so to speak the truth of the matter on a personal level. It is very appropriate that the conversation is female to female.

The thing is we are often conditioned to look at people in certain ways. This poem is made by the interesting twist of looking at the traditional mother-child Christ image in a more down to earth light. And let’s face it Mary was an earthly mother and I’m sure she had a few difficult times in the mothering of Jesus! But was he perfect in his response to his childhood mothering?

And perhaps Mary really did want a girl. And did Jesus really understand what it was like to be female? Perhaps JC the one male that truly understood the female! And what if a girl-Christ had happened – now that would be an interesting concept to explore!

Michael Thwaites (30 May 1915 – 1 November 2005) was an Australian academic, poet, and intelligence officer.

Michael Thwaites on Wikipedia

Morning Song – Sylvia Plath – Analysis

Morning Song

Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.

Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness
Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.

I’m no more your mother
Than the cloud that distils a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind’s hand.

All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear.

One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral
In my Victorian nightgown.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat’s. The window square

Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try
Your handful of notes;
The clear vowels rise like balloons.

Sylvia Plath (Feb 1961)

S1 – The first line of a poem is very important and this first start line is such a wonderful definitive statement on the start of life, that of the birth of a baby, and indeed relevant to life in general. ‘Fat’ and ‘Gold’ appropriate for fat signifies health in a baby as weight is so important for increase is eagerly sought by the mother. Gold signifies purity.

S2 – Voices echo at the birth usually a common joy resonates A museum signifies history and those of the old generation. Drafty (= draughty) generates an uncomfortable feeling and the ‘nakedness’ of the baby in this new environment increases the concern. The audience is a blank entity as far as the baby is concerned. The baby has no awareness of how he or she fits into the world – she is very much a new exhibit with everyone watching intently.

S3 – This is an interesting image expression to show the independence that exists between mother and child. A cloud trying to catch an image of itself as the wind quickly dissipates any such attempt.

S4/S5 – The mother is in constant awareness of the sound of the baby at sleep – akin to the sound of the sea in her ear. She wakes to listen for re-assurance. And it only takes one cry for an immediate response. ‘Stumble’ might indicate that the mother is tired from getting up to tend the needs of the baby or from keeping herself awake in her attentive concern.

S6 – I like the personification of the window square as it takes colour in a white frame and as it swallows the stars as dawn dissolves the night. The handful of notes belong to the baby, perhaps the starting voice of that independence referenced in the third stanza. Balloons of course are colourful and have happy child associations – and the healthy sounds of the baby are truly a bright ‘morning song’ to the mother.

Footnote – Cats do have clean mouths – due in part to the fact that the saliva in a feline’s mouth destroys germs and keeps the mouth clean. This is more powerful in cats than it is in humans and dogs, probably because cats use their mouths to clean themselves so often.

Here is a link to a YouTube reading of this poem by Sylvia Plath