THE POETRY of SYLVIA PLATH

Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences.

– Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath.

. . . Who doesn’t want to live by such a statement?

The beauty of Plath’s poetry is something I (amongst many others I imagine) find so difficult to articulate. It’s far from cheerful, of course. But rather than to uplift you, it succeeds in doing so much more. You feel her pain and you recognise her genius within a sitting, even within a reading. Each and every poem reflects her torment and expresses her troubled mind so excellently that although  Plath’s struggles with depression are omnipresent, her poems are exquisite and so far from dull and numbing. Without hard and painful episodes, there would be a fraction of the great literature and poetry that we are so lucky to have access to. Isn’t it unfortunate that such excellence often seems to be the result of such pain?

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Sylvia_plath
wikipedia.org

I often wonder what would have come next had Sylvia Plath not taken her own life at the tender age of 30. How would her older self have reflected on previous relationships and mental instability? What would her poetry have looked like as a 60 or 70 year old woman with a far more hefty lifetime behind her and the oh-so-helpful input of hindsight? I suppose we can only be thankful for what she did create and share with us during her lifetime, and be thankful for how wonderful and thought provoking it all is.

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Of course there are the classics; Ariel, Lady Lazarus, Daddy etc. but I want to share a personal favourite with you and that’s ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song’ which I love, love, love and goes as follows:

“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan’s men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)”

http://www.neuroticpoets.com/plath/poem/madgirl/

Ted-Hughes-Sylvia_Plath
booksthattellyouwhy.com

I think that it would be remiss of me to avoid Ted Hughes in a post about Plath. Though their relationship was tumultuous and ultimately ended in truly devastating circumstances, they created some of their greatest works whilst together and as a result of their relationship with one another, for better or for worse.

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I was planning on leaving this post in my drafts section until I had read ‘The Bell Jar’ but I have decided that the poetry of Sylvia Plath and my thoughts about it deserve a little time in the spotlight alone, for now at least.

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One thought on “THE POETRY of SYLVIA PLATH

  1. Thank you for posting this! I’m really not a poetry kind of person but I really want to get into it. I’ve had reading Plath as an idea in the back of my head for a while now, as she’s known for her dark stuff. I feel really intrigued get into some poetry now!

    Liked by 1 person

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