I know the comm. is pretty much dead as of late (which is very sad) but I felt like posting for the first time, since today would have been her 79th birthday.
I've been thinking about Sylvia's poetry quite a lot lately. I wanted to ask all of my fellow fans - how has she changed your life, your views on literature and poetry? I feel eternally grateful to Sylvia for inspiring me to become a confessional poet myself. Her works saved me during difficult years in my life. When I discovered her works at age 13, I was astounded and a little taken aback at the sheer genius of them... and by age 15, I was in love.
I actually did an appreciation post with my thoughts on her work and her life in honor of her birthday, and I wanted to share it here ;)The Bell Jar
This is a sensational novel about depression. Even the style of writing is very bleak, and melancholic. I first read it at 13, and was so disturbed I barely finished it. I re-read it at 15, and found I could connect with many of the feelings that Sylvia expressed on the world through her character, Esther Greenwood. The distaste for sexism, the feelings of inexplicable sadness over what seem to be so simple and easy to others (like her internship, and life in the city, and dating). I recommend it to anyone who wants to get a grasp on what major depression is like. The entire symbol of the bell jar is incredible, and Plath was genius to invent such a metaphor - being depressed is like being trapped in a bell jar, smothering with your own negativity.Quotes
"I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, 'This is what it is to be happy.'"- Chapter 8
"Doctor Nolan said, quite bluntly, that a lot of people would treat me gingerly, or even avoid me, like a leper with a warning bell. My mother's face floated to mind, a pale reproachful moon, at her last and first visit to the asylum since my twentieth birthday. A daughter in an asylum! I had done that to her."- Chapter 20Ariel
This book of poetry is a haunting inspiration to me. Many of Sylvia's best works are included in this anthology, including "Lady Lazarus" and "Daddy". It screams tragedy, power, and pain. It's harsh, unrelenting, and beautifully written. Facing death and life fearlessly, this book shows Sylvia's growth as a poet. This was written with death's kiss.Quotes
And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.- Lady Lazarus
The woman is perfected.
Body wears the smile of accomplishment,
The illusion of a Greek necessity
Flows in the scrolls of her toga,
Feet seem to be saying:
We have come so far, it is over.- EdgeThe Journals
Reading Sylvia's journal was actually very peaceful, and painfully sad. The woman behind moving feminist works filled with such a deeply cultivated genius, was very lonely and troubled - often intensely introspective and lonely, she seemed to feel as if she were peering at others from the outside in, and that she often fell short of her own expectations. Reading the journals made her seem so human to me, and vulnerable. I felt a great empathy for Sylvia. And her observations are extremely, extremely intelligent. Yet even when she wrote her journals, she sounded poetic. It amazes me.Quotes
“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.”
“Can you understand? Someone, somewhere, can you understand me a little, love me a little? For all my despair, for all my ideals, for all that - I love life. But it is hard, and I have so much - so very much to learn.”Ted Hughes
What is it about their relationship that is so intriguing? After reading many biographies about their life together (as well as observing an adaption of it on the silver screen in Sylvia
, which was somewhat poor) I've come to the conclusion that Sylvia did love and care for her husband, but was deeply wounded by his indiscretions.
Their relationship was the type we often see today, one of volatile, great passion, a lot of instability; one that burns intensely and fades just as quickly. It seemed to be filled with enlightening ups and depressive downs. It was a tragic union. Ted was at fault for treating Sylvia like an indestructible object, and not being more faithful and compassionate to her. Ultimately this would have prolonged
her life, though I doubt it would have kept her forever from suicide. And that is the saddest thing of all.