I must admit after reading The Bell Jar years ago, I avoided other works by Sylvia Plath for a long time. It was one of the most depressing books I’d ever read, so much blood, torment, anguish, rejection, more blood and mental isolation. I’m a happy endings kind of girl, call me shallow and weak.
But Sylvia Plath, American poet, novelist and short story writer was articulate, passionate and complicated. She was a gifted student who’d won numerous awards and had published stories and poetry in national magazines while still in her teens. As a child, Sylvia read very early and wrote complete poems by the age of five.
However, her literary gifts came at a very high price. Fifty years ago in 1963, Sylvia Plath killed herself at 30 years of age, suffering from depression. So tragic that self-doubt could eat at one so talented. Life was indeed too short for a clever woman who may have been better assisted and more vocal in today’s world.
But this post isn’t really about Sylvia Plath’s life, but the words she used. I’d like to share the fresh and insightful ways she could put words together, I don’t think she’d mind. Her words are economical, chosen to create a rich yet poignant (and not always dark) imagery. Plath used verbs in unusual ways too. Is there a word for that?
Here are some random, scattered examples (it’s not a poem) of her word-smithing I’ve kept, creativity I aspire to –
- “The womb rattles its pod.”
- “How you insert yourself between myself and myself.”
- “You are sunk in your seven chins, still as a ham.”
- “The wheels, two rubber grubs, bite their sweet tails.”
- “The wind gagging my mouth with my own blown hair, tearing off my voice.”
- “The dull bells tongue the hour.”
- “My singing makes you roar. I rock you like a boat.”
- “And a sky like a pig’s backside, an utter lack of attention.”
- “The impotent husband slumps out for coffee.”
- “Shifting my clarities.”
What lines of poetry rock your boat?