Thursday, July 29, 2010

Walking With Sylvia ~~~An Analysis of The Poetry Of Sylvia Plath~~


After reading on Willow's blog regarding Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath's husband and poet laureate, I've decided to do my own study of Sylvia Plath (and maybe abit of Ted) and present in a poem by poem format. When I find poems to be cross-referencing other poems I will attempt to do a comparitive poem study plus other comparitive works which may have been an influence in Ms Plath's short (she live to only age 30)and depressed (clinically) life.

Realizing now that Sylvia was extremely co-dependent, which may have been due to her father being cruel to her as well as other tragic life events. Undoubtledly Ted would have known that Sylvia was institutionalized yet married her anyway. He could have gotten an easy annulment. However, I am not sure how much Sylvia's depression created an effect on those around her and how they would have reacted. Oh course I am on a learning curve here.

I first recall my eldest sister bringing home the book The Bell Jar in the early 60's and I recall trying to read it as a mere child. Too over my head! Thank goodness.
I also have heard that Sylvia committed suicide by turning the stove on in her gas stove and sticking her head in the oven; basically aphixiating herself. Synchronistically I recall seeing a Natalie Wood production with the character Natalie portrayed as doing the same darn thing but then the phone would ring and she would have to answer it. Eventually Natalie's character blows up her house and walks away (great scene). Enpowering. I wish that Sylvia would have done the same thing; that a phone would have rung, maybe Ted calling to see if she was ok. He did not. So poor Sylvia became the thing she probably feared the most; to be alone with her demons. Poor dear Sylvia.

"And here you come, with a cup of tea
Wreathed in steam.
The blood jet is poetry,
There is no stopping it.
You hand me two children, two roses."

Once I find Emily Plath's complete works (this may take awhile) I will get back on board and do an analysis. As far as the study today is concerned, I thought these points were highly fascinating. I cannot wait to get into the meat and potatoes of Plath's poetry, plus I cannot wait to see the films and personal interviews with Plath (hopefully on Youtube). Until then; go easy my fellow writers, as the potential for depression is great amongst our ranks. Peace. OUt!

“”from Kindness, written 1 February 1963. Ariel
Plath wrote poetry from the age of eight. At Smith College she majored in English and won all the major prizes in writing and scholarship. She edited the college magazine Mademoiselle and on her graduation in 1955, she won the Glascock Prize for Two Lovers and a Beachcomber by the Real Sea. Later at Newnham, Cambridge, she wrote for the Varsity magazine. By the time Heinmann published her first collection, Collosus and other poems in the UK in late in 1960, Plath had been short-listed several times in the Yale Younger Poets book competition and had had work printed in Harper's, The Spectator and the Times Literary Supplement. All the poems in Collosus had already been printed in major US and British journals and she had a contract with The New Yorker.[42]

Colossus received largely positive UK reviews, highlighting her voice as new and strong, individual and American in tone. Peter Dickinson***(SYNCHRONICITY???) at Punch called the collection "a real find" and "exhilarating to read", full of "clean, easy verse".[42] Bernard Bergonzi at the Manchester Guardian said the book was an "outstanding technical accomplishment" with a "virtuoso' quality". [42] From the point of publication she became a presence on the poetry scene. The book went on to be published America in 1962 to less glowing reviews. Whilst her craft was generally praised her writing was viewed as more derivative of other poets.[42] Some later critics have described the first book as somewhat young, staid or conventional in comparison to the more free-flowing imagery and intensity of her later work.

Here is the first poem of Sylvia Plath presented today: Sylvia Plath (October 27, 1932 – February 11, 1963) was an American poet, novelist and short story writer. Born in Massachusetts, she studied at Smith College and Newnham College Cambridge before receiving acclaim as a professional poet and writer. She married fellow poet Ted Hughes in 1956 and they lived together first in the United States and then England, having two children together: Frieda and Nicholas. Following a long struggle with depression and a marital separation, Plath committed suicide in 1963.[4] Controversy continues to surround the events of her life and death, as well as her writing and legacy.

Plath is credited with advancing the genre of confessional poetry and is best known for her two collections The Colossus and Other Poems and Ariel. In 1982, she became the first poet to win a Pulitzer Prize posthumously for The Collected Poems. She was also the author of one semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, which was published shortly before her death.Confessional writing
The poems in Ariel mark a departure from her earlier work into a more personal arena of poetry. It is a possibility Robert Lowell's poetry played a part in this shift as she cited Lowell's poem Life Studies as a significant influence, in an interview just before her death.[43] Posthumously published in 1966, The impact of Ariel was dramatic, with its dark and potentially autobiographical descriptions of mental illness in poems such as Tulips, Daddy and Lady Lazarus. [43] Plath's work is often held within the genre of Confessional poetry and the style of her work compared to other confessional contemporaries, such as Robert Lowell and W.D. Snodgrass. Plath's close friend Al Alvarez, who has written about her extensively, writes of her later work:

Plath's case is complicated by the fact that, in her mature work, she deliberately used the details of her everyday life as raw material for her art. A casual visitor or unexpected telephone call, a cut, a bruise, a kitchen bowl, a candlestick - everything became usable, charged with meaning, transformed. Her poems are full of references and images that seem impenetrable at this distance but which could mostly be explained in footnotes by a scholar with full access to the details of her life. [44]

Frieda Plath subsequent decrying the throngs of Plath souvenir hunters;

Frieda Hughes, a poet, was angered by the making of the 2003 BBC biopic Ted and Sylvia. Hughes, who was two years old when her mother died, accused the "peanut crunching" public of wanting to be entertained by her mother's death. In 2003, she published her poem My Mother in Tatler. It reads:

Now they want to make a film
For anyone lacking the ability
To imagine the body, head in oven,
Orphaning children [...]

[...] they think
I should give them my mother's words
To fill the mouth of their monster,
Their Sylvia Suicide Doll

From My Mother, in The Book of Mirrors (2003) by Frieda Hughes [58][59]

Do you suffer, as a writer from the Plath EThe Sylvia Plath effect is a term coined by psychologist James C. Kaufman in 2001 to refer to the phenomenon that creative writers are more susceptible to mental illness. Kaufman's work demonstrated that female poets were more likely to suffer from mental illness than any other class of writers.[1] This finding has been discussed in many international newspapers, including the New York Times.[2] The finding is consistent with other psychological research studies.[3]

The effect is named after the American poet Sylvia Plath, who committed suicide when she was thirty years old.



  1. If, during your researches, you want to find out more about Ted Hughes as he saw Platt long after her death and before his own, you can do worse than read "The Birthday letters".

    I find your idea of analyzing poetry here very interesting. I have a poetry blog too, but I simply post my favourite poems or those I find in obscure places - none of my own - with no more than a very short note. My site is purely self-indulgent; I love poetry, read it every day, and posting a poem every few days gives me great pleasure.

    Unlike you, I do not do much research and am certainly not out to edudcate anyone.
    I admire your efforts very much.

  2. @Friko Thanks! There is so much more that is going on in poetry than simply a subjective appreciation, and to get the full effect of the poem (although probably all great poems stand on their own merit)one needs to examine the mileu of the poet, to examine the poet's world at that time. As much possible imformation as possible, the influences, inspirations, maybe even what they had for breakfast this day. Many of my detractors (critics) have found that I should just publish the poems, appreciate them for what they are, and leave it at that! I guess! I do that! No one has to go beyond the poem into my trying to sort out or analyze the poem. Maybe in a sense, I am "killing" the poem by over-analyzing it. I do understand this. However, when I read a poem I read it three times, get the feel for it. If I don't "get" the poem I have to analyze it, to figure out, just what, exactly, is being said. Why would I just say "I dont get it" without trying to figure out the subtle nuances etc I am missing? Every poet has their own personal language of images, often recurring, meaningful to them personally subjectively. We may never truly understand the exact emotion felt by the poet, or the reason for this or that particular feeling, however, we could attempt to understand these often sublime or buried emotions. This is what makes us human, and we should never deny the significance of the intended emotional impact of a poem. This may not be understood by the intellectual, but it is a language, emotion, and it is important to feel a poem as well as intellectually understand it. In this way, we can combine the best of both worlds, the intellect, and the emotional world of the poet. Friko I am going to love reading your poems,etc. Thank-you for stopping by! I will try to keep up my Poem a day format! If it is appreciated, so far, I've had my detractors! Oh well! The price of fame! (ya, right!):)

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