Sylvia Plath was an American writer of poetry, novels and short stories who was born on the 27th October 1932 and committed suicide in 1963, at the young age of 30. In her literary career, she is noted as building on and improving the genre of poetry known as confessional. This was the concept of focusing on oneself and those extreme moments of personal tragedy, discovery and difficulty.
Plath’s two most famous collections are known as The Colossus and Other Poems, published in 1960 and Ariel, published in 1965. By the time Ariel was published, her popularity truly started to go up and it was the turning point of her poetry to the content of a more personal nature. Alongside her poetry, she was well known for her novel published prior to her death, The Bell Jar, a semi-autobiographical piece.
Her marriage to poet Ted Hughes led to decades of controversy after her death, with many blaming Hughes for her death, burning and losing some of her work and Plath became a figurehead for feminists around the world, who believed she had been murdered by Hughes. Sadly, Plath was clinically depressed for most of her adult life and this led to her suicide in 1963.
In 1982, she was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize, in honour of her collection of poetry. To this day, her work
1. 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 my life. And I am horribly limited.
2. If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed.
3. I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.
4. 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.
5. I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.
6. Kiss me, and you will see how important I am.
7. I have the choice of being constantly active and happy or introspectively passive and sad. Or I can go mad by ricocheting in between.
8. Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing.
9. I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.
10. The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my
11. 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.
12. let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences
13. I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; I lift my eyes and all is born again.
14. 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.
15. If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I’m neurotic as hell. I’ll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days.
16. Remember, remember, this is now, and now, and now. Live it, feel it, cling to it. I want to become acutely aware of all I’ve taken for granted.
17. Is there no way out of the mind?
18. I desire the things that will destroy me in the end.
19. 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.
20. If the moon smiled, she would resemble you. You leave the same impression Of something beautiful, but annihilating.
21. God, but life is loneliness, despite all the opiates, despite the shrill tinsel gaiety of “parties” with no purpose, despite the false grinning faces we all wear. 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. Yes, there is joy, fulfillment and companionship – but the loneliness of the soul in its appalling self-consciousness is horrible and overpowering.
22. I like people too much or not at all. I’ve got to go down deep, to fall into people, to really know them.
23. We should meet in another life, we should meet in air, me and you.
24. The trouble was, I had been inadequate all along, I simply hadn’t thought about it.
25. I talk to God but the sky is empty.
26. When they asked me what I wanted to be I said I didn’t know. “Oh, sure you know,” the photographer said. “She wants,” said Jay Cee wittily, “to be everything.
27. There is nothing like puking with somebody to make you into old friends.
28. There is something demoralizing about watching two people get more and more crazy about each other, especially when you are the only extra person in the room. It’s like watching Paris from an express caboose heading in the opposite direction–every second the city gets smaller and smaller, only you feel it’s really you getting smaller and smaller and lonelier and lonelier, rushing away from all those lights and excitement at about a million miles an hour.
29. I must get my soul back from you; I am killing my flesh without it.
30. I didn’t want my picture taken because I was going to cry. I didn’t know why I was going to cry, but I knew that if anybody spoke to me or looked at me too closely the tears would fly out of my eyes and the sobs would fly out of my throat and I’d cry for a week. I could feel the tears brimming and sloshing in me like water in a glass that is unsteady and too full.
31. I felt very still and empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo.
32. To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is a bad dream.
33. How we need another soul to cling to.
34. I am still so naïve; I know pretty much what I like and dislike; but please, don’t ask me who I am. A passionate, fragmentary girl, maybe?
35. because wherever I sat—on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok—I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.
36. I don’t care about anyone, and the feeling is quite obviously mutual.
37. I have never found anybody who could stand to accept the daily demonstrative love I feel in me, and give back as good as I give.
38. Perhaps some day I’ll crawl back home, beaten, defeated. But not as long as I can make stories out of my heartbreak, beauty out of sorrow.
39. I love people. Everybody. I love them, I think, as a stamp collector loves his collection. Every story, every incident, every bit of conversation is raw material for me. My love’s not impersonal yet not wholly subjective either. I would like to be everyone, a cripple, a dying man, a whore, and then come back to write about my thoughts, my emotions, as that person. But I am not omniscient. I have to live my life, and it is the only one I’ll ever have. And you cannot regard your own life with objective curiosity all the time…
40. That’s one of the reasons I never wanted to get married. The last thing I wanted was infinite security and to be the place an arrow shoots off from. I wanted change and excitement and to shoot off in all directions myself, like the colored arrows from a Fourth of July rocket.
41. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
42. I was supposed to be having the time of my life.
43. I wonder why I don’t go to bed and go to sleep. But then it would be tomorrow, so I decide that no matter how tired, no matter how incoherent I am, I can skip on hour more of sleep and live.
44. What did my arms do before they held you?
45. But when it came right down to it, the skin of my wrist looked so white and defensless that I couldn’t do it. It was as if what I wanted to kill wasn’t in that skin or the thin blue pulse that jumped under my thumb, but somewhere else, deeper, more secret, and a whole lot harder to get.
46. I didn’t know why I was going to cry, but I knew that if anybody spoke to me or looked at me too closely the tears would fly out of my eyes and the sobs would fly out of the throat and I’d cry for a week.
47. I didn’t know why I was going to cry, but I knew that if anybody spoke to me or looked at me too closely the tears would fly out of my eyes and the sobs would fly out of the throat and I’d cry for a week.
48. I couldn’t see the point of getting up. I had nothing to look forward to.
49. I felt wise and cynical as all hell.
50. I want to be important. By being different. And these girls are all the same.
51. I want to taste and glory in each day, and never be afraid to experience pain; and never shut myself up in a numb core of nonfeeling, or stop questioning and criticizing life and take the easy way out. To learn and think: to think and live; to live and learn: this always, with new insight, new understanding, and new love.
52. I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted to lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty. How free it is, you have no idea how free.
53. How we need another soul to cling to, another body to keep us warm. To rest and trust; to give your soul in confidence: I need this, I need someone to pour myself into.
54. Yes, my consuming desire is to mingle with road crews, sailors and soldiers, barroom regulars—to be a part of a scene, anonymous, listening, recording—all this is spoiled by the fact that I am a girl, a female always supposedly in danger of assault and battery. My consuming interest in men and their lives is often misconstrued as a desire to seduce them, or as an invitation to intimacy. Yes, God, I want to talk to everybody as deeply as I can. I want to be able to sleep in an open field, to travel west, to walk freely at night…
55. And the danger is that in this move toward new horizons and far directions, that I may lose what I have now, and not find anything except loneliness.
56. Some things are hard to write about. After something happens to you, you go to write it down, and either you over dramatize it, or underplay it, exaggerate the wrong parts or ignore the important ones. At any rate, you never write it quite the way you want to.
57. There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.
58. The floor seemed wonderfully solid. It was comforting to know I had fallen and could fall no farther.
59. 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.
60. I told him I believed in hell, and that certain people, like me, had to live in hell before they died, to make up for missing out on it after death, since they didn’t believe in life after death, and what each person believed happened to him when he died.