Sylvia Plath was a renowned poet of the Modernist period. Through autobiographical poetry and journals, Plath wrote of her mental anguish and troubled marriage to Ted Hughes. She has influenced generations of poets and wrote groundbreaking pieces that still hold up well today. Here, we’ve rounded up some quotes from her writing to remember Sylvia Plath.
Beauty Out of Sorrow
Plath accepts that at the end of the days that she feels defeated, there is still beauty in sorrow as long as she can make stories out of it.
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.
To Live and Learn
Plath simply wants to live and learn, to constantly gain new insight and new understanding. She doesn’t want to be afraid of pain or feel nothing. She refuses to question life’s ups and downs and just learns from it.
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.
Beautiful but Annihilating
Plath writes a beautiful line about loving someone who is wonderful but could break her heart and destroy her, just like the moon.
If the moon smiled, she would resemble you.
You leave the same impression
Of something beautiful, but annihilating.
I am, I am, I am
The closing line to her famous novel The Bell Jar encapsulates the protagonist’s journey of self-discovery. Throughout the novel, the main character struggles with herself and her mental health but, by the end, reaches a relieving conclusion to her hard journey.
I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.
Despite having a hard go at life, Plath still loves life and accepts that she has much to learn. She yearns for someone to understand and love her despite what she may not know so far.
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.
Plath reminisces on the now, hoping to really enjoy life as it is in the present. She wants to become aware of the things she currently takes for granted and truly enjoy what she has.
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.
The Enemy of Self-Doubt
Here, Plath motivates the reader by saying we must have the courage and imagination to write and be creative. She further explains that self-doubt can crush our creativity. Anything in life can be written about or made out to become art.
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.
The Fig Tree Analogy
This last one is a long one but one of the most memorable analogies. Plath beautifully writes an analogy of a fig tree full of her hopes and dreams, but how it sadly goes black and bruised due to her being unable to pick just one.
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.
Sylvia Plath’s tragic death does not mean she will be forgotten; her spirit lives on in her poetry. It has been over 60 years since her passing, but we still remember her deeply moving words and existence. Through these quotes we’ve gathered, we remember her and will not let her impact be forgotten. Sylvia Plath lives on through her words.
For more articles about Sylvia Plath, click here!
For books by female authors, browse our bookshelves!