October 27, 2013

Happy Birthday, Sylvia Plath!

October 27, 2013

Happy Birthday, Sylvia Plath!

Known for her dark and twisted poems, novels and short stories, Sylvia Plath was a well-known prolific literature writer in the 1960s before her death in 1963. Her enigmatic, morbid aesthetics showed in her writing. I think that's what made a fan of me. That, and her perspective on love, death, and life itself. 

Today, October 27, marks her 81st birthday and thought I'd dedicate a post to her as a personal birthday card. I do this for all the literary heroes.

Sylvia Plath was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer.

Known primarily for her poetry, Plath also wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The book's protagonist, Esther Greenwood, is a bright, ambitious student at Smith College who begins to experience a mental breakdown while interning for a fashion magazine in New York. The plot parallels Plath's experience interning at Mademoiselle magazine and subsequent mental breakdown and suicide attempt.

Along with Anne Sexton, Plath is credited with advancing the genre of confessional poetry initiated by Robert Lowell and W.D. Snodgrass. Despite her remarkable artistic, academic, and social success at Smith, Plath suffered from severe depression and underwent a period of psychiatric hospitalization. She graduated from Smith with highest honours in 1955 and went on to Newnham College, Cambridge, in England, on a Fulbright fellowship. Here she met and married the English poet Ted Hughes in 1956. For the following two years she was an instructor in English at Smith College.

In 1960, shortly after Plath and Hughes returned to England from America, her first collection of poems appeared as The Colossus. She also gave birth to a daughter, Frieda Rebecca Hughes’ and Plath’s son, Nicholas Farrar, was born in 1962. 

Plath took her own life on the morning of February 11, 1963. Leaving out bread and milk, she completely sealed the rooms between herself and her sleeping children with "wet towels and cloths." Plath then placed her head in the oven while the gas was turned on. (More about Plath on Goodreads)

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Sylvia... 

"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." 
"And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."  
"And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter— they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long." (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath) 
"I like people too much or not at all. I've got to go down deep, to fall into people, to really know them."  (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath) 
"Yes, I was infatuated with you: I am still. No one has ever heightened such a keen capacity of physical sensation in me. I cut you out because I couldn't stand being a passing fancy. Before I give my body, I must give my thoughts, my mind, my dreams. And you weren't having any of those." (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath) 
"I desire the things that will destroy me in the end." 
 "Living with him is like being told a perpetual story: his mind is the biggest, most imaginative I have ever met. I could live in its growing countries forever." (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath)
"I write only because
There is a voice within me
That will not be still"  
"What did my arms do before they held you?
What did my fingers do before they held him?
What did my heart do, with its love?" 
 "So much working, reading, thinking, living to do! A lifetime is not long enough." 
"What is my life for and what am I going to do with it? I don't know and I'm afraid. 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 wanted change and excitement and to shoot off in all directions myself, like the colored arrows from a Fourth of July rocket." 
"I am jealous of those who think more deeply, who write better, who draw better, who ski better, who look better, who live better, who love better than I."  

 Books by Sylvia


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