Sylvia Plath’s Poetry

As an English major, I’m rather ashamed that I find it extremely difficult to like poetry. I have always found poetry difficult to read, understand, interpret and I’m afraid my eyes often glazed over the pages. I also zone out when poetry is read out. Terrible, isn’t it?

However, I picked up a slim volume of selected Sylvia Plath’s poetry and I’m blown away. I think, by George (!), I finally ‘get’ poetry. There is just something simplistic yet ambiguous in Plath’s writing. There is a strong sense of sadness, anger and devastation radiating from her words. Reading these poetry after Plath’s The Bell Jar probably enhanced the effect.

I noted in my review that one of her most moving line was: I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.

I am, I am, I am is a line that Plath reiterates throughout her work. It is reiterated through The Bell Jar in different contexts and each time it has a different meaning.

In her poem Suicide off Egg Rock, Plath writes:

No pit of shadow to crawl into,

And his blood beating the old tattoo

I am, I am, I am.

I just find that breathtaking and I particularly like her continuity. Daddy is her most powerful poem, I think, in that particular volume. Her lines:

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.

But they pulled me out of the sack,

And they stuck me together with glue.

Of course, with the history and Plath’s biography now widely know, her work now makes it all the more poignant and heartbreaking. However, as much as I’m struck by Plath’s work, I’m not sure how much I am able to read. It’s just far too depressing.

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One comment

  1. I see the appeal in “simplistic yet ambiguous.” Maybe I should try some Sylvia Plath. That’s interesting about that line being repeated in different works. I really liked studying poetry in high school but when I’ve tried reading it for fun my eyes tend to glaze over too.

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