Sylvia Plath is one of the most surprising poets to read if you’re not already familiar. Probably the only thing a lot of people know about her is her suicide, which is sad. Her poetry is fueled by her struggles with manic depression, and is often funny. She could spin a metaphor like few others and the images she crafted were unstoppable.
Bottom line is Plath is one of the greats and should be remembered for more than her illness and death. Her poetry shouldn’t be marred by her end, either. It’s its own thing and, frequently, joyously imaginative. Sometimes it’s very hopeful, the lows are often matched by the highs. Anyway, here are just a few of my choice lines from Sylvia Plath.
1. I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.
I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I’ve a call.
From “Lady Lazarus”
3. And I
Am the arrow,
The dew that flies
Suicidal, at one with the drive
Into the red
Eye, the cauldron of morning.
4. Two virtues ride, by stallion, by nag,
To grind our knives and scissors:
Lantern-jawed Reason, squat Common Sense,
One courting doctors of all sorts,
One, housewives and shopkeepers.
5. Now your head, excuse me, is empty.
I have the ticket for that.
From “The Applicant”
The next five quotes are from “Tulips” because it’s long but it’s also great and maybe you’ll be more inclined to read the whole thing if I cherry pick a few excerpts.
6. I am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions.
I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses
And my history to the anesthetist and my body to surgeons.
7. My body is a pebble to them, they tend it as water
Tends to the pebbles it must run over, smoothing them gently.
8. The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me.
Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe
Lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby.
9. Nobody watched me before, now I am watched.
10. I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted
To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.
Feature Image Via NY Daily News