Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sylvia Plath

Please read or listen to Plath read the following poems:

"Lady Lazarus,"

"Mad Girl's Love Song,"(a villanelle) and


Write a response to these poems and post on the blog by Thursday.

Write a poem inspired by Plath for Friday's class.


  1. Sylvia Plath's poetry style is very difficult to read for reasons beyond just her dark context and themes. In order to explain this, I've decided to write my reaction to her style as a poem in her style.

    By Marshall Borrus

    It continues on, and on
    The sentence goes
    Yet remains short.

    Where does the line
    Break, where?
    So goes with pauses.

    Juxtaposed phrases,
    Heavy water, largely wet,
    Calm rapid breaths.

    Meaning transcends my
    Reach yet the words dance
    In their shadows

    Which reach further.
    Beyond their grasps.
    And my own.

    As a mollusk.
    They know, sparingly
    Shouting to themselves.

    'Out there!'
    Leaves spreading.
    Faster than the wind.

    Crossing, twisting.

    These poems are cryptic.
    To me they mean
    Nothing more than a bean.

    My favorite of the four poems was Mad Girl's Love Song for the sole reason that it was the least obscured. In fact it was the only poem I liked by the poet and in that regard I liked it quite a bit. Plath undoubtably has a very artistic style of placing words and can give the poem a sense of rhythm. Maybe I'm just a sucker for poems that rhyme but compared to the other poems it seems to actually make sense the way it flows. In her work you can see the torment she feels is quite a force within her. You can almost feel the pain in some of her lines, and she is not afraid to proclaim her self dead. "Dying/ Is an art, like everything else./ I do it exceptionally well." Overall her poetry was not a style I very much liked but her work does have a very powerful air to it. Maybe the complexity and confusion I felt when reading it was what she meant for when she first wrote these poems.

  2. my response to these poems is that I am a little disturbed and frightened. also Plath really needs a therapist or maybe even a hospital full of therapist. from the poems I've read I think path hasn't issue with men and especially her father. Plath in all the poems mention something about a man in each one so I think plath just generally doesn't like them whether it be from a bad break up or something more serious than that. Also I don't think I like plath's poems very much because they are way too dark and cynical for me and it really just puts me in a sad mood which I don't like very much.
    Jake j 1st

  3. I had to read each of Plath's poems a few times to try to understand them. I found the poem "Daddy" to be especially confusing. It really rambled on and I did not understand many of the references she made. It was clear that they were very personal to her and maybe it is not important to understand every phrase of the poem, but to get an idea of how she felt about her father. From what I do understand, it is clear that she really disliked him and it is amazing that she can express herself with such a long poem that references so many different things. In "Lady Lazarus" Plath uses very short lines and short stanzas. We see a contrast in "Tulips" where shes uses both long lines and lengthy stanzas. "Mad Girl's Love Song" was a slightly easier to understand because it lacked the references that confused me in the first three poems. Plath's poetry is different then the works of most poets we have studied in the past. It kind of reminds me of Edgar Allen Poe because it is definitely a little dark and at some points disturbing. However, I noticed that when Poe writes about people in his poems, they are a little more upbeat and not as disturbing and when he writes about objects, such as in "The Raven" or "The Bells" he uses phrases that are creepier. Plath appears to do almost the opposite. Her poem "Mirror" is probably the least disturbing of all the pieces we read. But when she writes about her father or other people she uses a more cynical tone.

    Katey Yale
    Period 5

  4. When I read these poems, I felt that they were very dark and gloomy and a bit scary at times as well. I think that she is a very good poet in that she writes well and pours all of her emotions out into these poems. She definitely got her point across in all of the poems, especially in the poem entitled "Daddy". She was mad at her father because her father supported Nazi Germany in the second world war, and Sylvia's mother was possibly Jewish. She showed how much hate and disrespect that not only she had for her father, but also other people from their neighborhood. This was a very interesting topic to write a poem about, and I thought that everything she wrote was so powerful in getting her point across. Personally, I would probably never read any of Plath's poems because they just aren't really my cup of tea, but I think that she is a phenomenal poet.

  5. Sylvia's depression is blatantly obvious. After reading Daddy and Lady Lazarus I found her depression must have started around age 10 because multiple times she mentions a change in her life starting at age 10. Also within both of these poems, I found she tried to commit suicide multiple times. Within her poems Tulips and Mirror she mentions being in a hospital and not wanting to get better or caring about the people who come to visit her. After reading these poems and knowing how she committed suicide it is clear to me that she needed more help then she was getting. Sylvia needed more then antidepressants, she needed to be in a mental hospital.
    Abby A
    period 5

  6. All of Sylvia Plath’s poems seemed to reach personal levels. Most poets create a voice and write from that perspective, but Plath writes poems in a deep and personal way. A lot of the poems seem to depict her thoughts and feelings, almost as though they were being written down in a diary. The theme of death is ever present within her writing. In “Lady Lazarus,” Plath writes that after trying to kill herself multiple times, she feels that she has mastered the art of dying. Normally, when you think of the flowers tulips, you picture life and beauty. In the poem, “Tulips,” I think that this is exactly what the flowers stand for. The tulips are full of life, and she almost resents them just for this reason, because she is over life. She resents how full of life the flowers are compared to herself. Sylvia Plath’s style of writing is very different from other poetry that I have studied in school. Normally, when you think of a rhyming poem, you imagine an upbeat, happy poem. However, Plath brought a different approach to a rhyming poem. Plath’s poems are very dark and they bring a very personal level to the reader.
    Ellie B Period 5

  7. Sylvia Plath’s poems are very dark and depressing. Overall, I don’t really enjoy them. In all of her poems, there seems to be a deeper meaning than just what is written. Most of the poems connect personally to her so it is sometimes difficult to know exactly what she is talking about.
    Her poems aren't like most poems because most are about more lively subjects, while hers are generally about death. The poem that I enjoyed the most was “Mirror” because it describes a mirror in a more poetic and artistic way, saying it is, “unmisted by love or dislike.” The cynical meanings to these poems coincide with the fact that she committed suicide.
    Emma Dwyer p1

  8. Sylvia Plath’s poems are quite different than any other poems I have ever read. Her poems seemed to be very morbid and depressing. She seemed to write a lot about death and she also seemed to push the limit as to what was truly accepted and what people believed you should or should not write about. She wrote conflicted poems, poems that were controversial which people did not expect. Plath seemed to be a cynical, brutal, and a very opinionated poet. She wrote what people didn’t want to hear or they didn’t agree with it. In her poem “Daddy” she writes about her father as a person and uses many different metaphors to describe him and her relationship with him as well. As the poem goes on she claims to say that she has “killed” her father and her husband. As the poem goes on she also describes the struggles that she has had with her father and how she is now through with him. Sylvia Plath’s poem “Lady Lazarus”, is in the same sort of writing style as her other poems. This poem is morbid and dark and seems to hint at death a lot. The only poem I seem to like out of all of Sylvia Plath’s poems is “Mirror” this poem is the only one I seem to like because it seems to make the most sense. Most of Sylvia Plath’s poems make no sense to me. They must be symbolic but you would have to analyze her poems in great detail.
    Ariana D Period 1

  9. I really appreciated these poems by Sylvia Plath, and I was impressed at her ability to express such deep and powerful emotions in the way that she did. It's not often that I read poetry with as much honesty and personality as hers. Other great poets choose subjects apart from themselves, like ideals and nature, and there's something special that Plath brings when she writes about the most intimate of all subjects: herself. At times it almost feels like I'm reading something that I shouldn't be, like her poems are a private diary. Plath describes her emotions vividly in terms of objects and metaphors. "Daddy" was probably my favorite of these poems, because I loved the way Plath uninhibitedly described her relationship with her father, combining German language and references, and going on to discuss how this broken relationship even pervaded her relationship with her husband. The phrase "daddy issues" is thrown around almost comically nowadays, but it's powerful to see a woman come to grasps with this, and by the end let go of this harmful relationship- "Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through."

  10. These poems are crafted with extreme artistry. Although I hate that Plath had to go through severe depression to give us these poems, I think they are very important to our society especially. Depression is not typically viewed as a disease, and it should be. People affected with depression can't be told to 'get over it' or to 'look at what other people go through'. Plath does a beautiful job of giving us a little window into her mind, to see the hopelessness and the torture. In "Daddy", she gives the reader an image of a man who appeared so perfect to her but in the end she had to destroy the illusion he gave her of his flawlessness because he hurt her badly. I found "Tulips" particularly enigmatic because the reader has to decide what to pay attention to and what is less important to the central theme, which was that no matter what the nurses try to do for her, she will not get better. I also really liked the tumultuous way Plath wrote "Lady Lazarus". In one stanza she said one thing and then directly afterwards she proves it totally wrong. I loved how in the end she basically says that she is a force to be reckoned with, saying "I eat men like air". This attitude is quite admirable for someone like her, and though she wrote a poem about her heart being broken, she was still able to pull part of herself back together. I think it shows she is stronger than she claims to be in her poems, that there is an unknown part of her that is powerful and she was never truly able to draw it from within.
    Cleo K Period 5

  11. Sylvia Plath's poems seem to be highly autobiographical, and based on her true feelings or her experiences. Through descriptions of deep emotion and negativity, Sylvia's chronic despair and obsession with death is evident to any reader. Her style fluctuates with each poem. Although each poem has a different subject or focus, each conveys Plath's morbid and self-critical point of view. I enjoy Sylvia Plath's poetry, despite its depressing tone. Her poems force the reader to contemplate values, outlook, conflicts, etc. However, it is extremely unsettling that she was even able to find such negativity and write with such violent emotion about Tulips. According to her husband, Ted Hughes, "Tulips" is probably about flowers she received while recovering from appendectomy. Also, it seems Plath embraces her outlook on life and her depression. Overall, Plath's works are characterized by dark imagery and cynical subjects. Isabel B Period 1

  12. Sylvia Plath's poems are unique in that they are very dark, and explain subjects that she had to face head-on. As one reads her poems, they come to get a sense of what life was really like for her, and how much she actually struggled. Her style of writing is one that makes the reader almost cringe because of the analogies she makes to eerie subjects. However, although I believe these poems are difficult to read because of the emotional aspect, I admire the way that Sylvia was able to write about herself. One of the most striking lines that I read in Lady Lazarus was, “Dying Is an art, like everything else. I do it exceptionally well.” Her way of writing is extremely direct, and she simply states how terrible she is feeling. This is one of the reasons I loved reading her poems so much. She never wrote about things you can see, but mainly wrote about things that you can feel.
    Jillian Period 1

  13. While reading Sylvia Plath's poetry, I was very surprised with how dark they were. I found her poem somewhat difficult to read because of how depressing they are. After reading the poems, I came to the conclusion that Plath's depression was very serious. I believe that many of her poems were talking about her feelings and thoughts about life. That makes me concerned about what goes on within her mind. I believe that Silvia had a lot of issues with her father. In the poem "Daddy" it talks about all the struggles she went through with her father and how now, she is done with it. I was glad that I got the chance to read some of this unique poetry. It really opened my eyes into learning about another way to express yourself. Most of the poems I read are about things people want to hear about like flowers or animals. However, Silvia Plath's writing was very different and I admire her for doing something most people won't do. Alyssa S class 1

  14. Sylvia Plath's poems appear to draw inspiration from solely her own life and experiences. Her poems are clearly very dark and depressing. What saddens me, to an extent, is the fact that she has filled so many of these poems with pure misery and discontent that it makes me wonder if she has ever had a feeling of joy or happiness in her life. It appear as if she hasn’t had any experiences of joy so she is forced to relieve the depressing parts of her life, which seems to be all that her life pertained of. Plath is definitely different from any other poet I have ever encountered as I can’t name other poets who have turned such an innocent flower like tulips into something of dread and contempt. I do, however, cannot help but have respect for Plath as she pushed the boundaries of poetry. Usually poetry is about an ideal or concept that the poet considers through verses, but Plath’s poems are nothing short of depressing stories put into a rhyming fashion. In the poem “Tulips” Plath writes, “I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted, to lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.” Plath expresses many times in her poetry of sadness so deep she doesn't want to get better. In this poem particularly it is clear that she recognizes the “healing” effects tulips, and any other flower really, has but simply denies its company as if she enjoys being sad, or is simply so used to it she can’t fathom a world free of it.

  15. For some reason, these poems really did not depress me. Hardly any good writing comes out of a life with little pain, and though Plath's pain was greater than that of the average person, I didn't feel overwhelmed by it in her poetry. Are we so insecure in ourselves that we can't challenge ourselves to appreciate the "dark" or "scary" things? We all love a good chick flick or comedy, but it's the mentally taxing, morally stretching movies that stick with us longer. I absolutely loved the poem "Tulips". When Plath wrote, "I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses/And my history to the anesthetist and my body to surgeons," she could be referring to giving up her identity when she entered the mental hospital, or she could be writing a kind of last-minute will in a suicide note. She describes the smiles of her husband and child by saying that they "catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks." This is an unusual way to reference those you love, but it clearly demonstrates how even things like family and love aren't enough to stop someone who sees no other possibility than suicide. The poem ends in death itself, with Plath blaming the tulips for killing her- "the tulips should be behind bars like dangerous animals." I loved the last two lines: "The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea, and comes from a country as far away as health." Water is clearly blood here (warm and salty), and I love the analogy to ocean waters coming from a place unimaginably far away. When we put our feet in the Long Island Sound, we know that these waters may have also brushed feet on African beaches, but we can't really believe it. Plath knows that this is her blood, and that it has come from her body, but she doesn't believe that her body is close enough to health to produce it.

  16. After reading Sylvia Plath's poems, I couldn't tell if I liked her style or if hated it. I hated it because it was choppy and the breaks seemed to occur randomly. I had to read each stanza multiple times to understand what it was saying. I liked it because the choppiness actually made me think deeper about what she was trying to say. Perhaps these confusing phrases are responsible for their recognition, because they make people wonder why they are arranged in that way. Also, it was refreshing to read poems that were so raw and honest about a darker time in someone's life. The poem "Daddy" was quite depressing but Sylvia's style really helped the reader capture the emotions she was feeling.
    Erika M. P5

  17. In my opinion, Sylvia Plath's were very confusing but beautiful once you understood it. I had to reread it few times. They were very gloomy, dark and depressing. Her poems were a sign of depression and a reflection on her life. I really liked the poem "Mirror". She gave an object a lot of personification as if the mirror held a part of her young life & future self. She also talked a lot about her husband and father. Plath's readers get to connect with her on a personal level and I really like that about her work.

    - Shradha S Period 1

  18. It seems that most of Plaths poems are about previous events in her life and how she dealt and is dealing with them her poem mirror really struck me as her personifying an object in order to relate it to herself for example the line "She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands." the she could easily be her and she could just be trying look at it from the mirrors perspective. I think Plath poems were a way of dealing with herself and sometimes that could make me feel uncomfortable because it feels like she is sharing too much.
    Tyler Rubino

  19. Plath's poems have the sense of obscurity and ambiguity, however, there is an aspect of elegance within the confusion. Plath writes about the "scary and "dark things within those poems, and while possibly controversial at the time, today we can enjoy and read these poems and think about the poems without any feeling of taboo. Plath writes these poems to grab or elicit a strong emotional response from the reader, and to do so, requires that she pour out pieces of either her life or other experiences. Plath is a very strong worded and strong minded author who polarized the community and solidified herself into history as an amazing poet. These poems really do reflect that idea.
    Kevin J

  20. Though her poetry is quite gloomy, I seem to find some of her poems ending on a more optimistic note. In Daddy for example, Plath stats, "Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through." showing that she isn't willing to put up with him anymore; she's smart enough to move on in her life. Also, in Lady Lazarus, in ends with, "Out of the ash / I rise with my red hair/ And I eat men like air." I interpreted that as Plath showing her strength despite the put downs in life, though it may not be the best way of showing she is stronger by going through lots of guys. I do like her poems, especially with her strong use of imagery. I'm a bit confused on some of the references she makes, though.
    Meredith J. Period 5

  21. It takes a really great style of poetry to have your words mean one thing, but also having the story mean another. Plath's poems had a dark and depressing context, but the poem's entirety had the "light at the end of the tunnel" perspective. I'm the peom, “Tulips”, Plath writes, “I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted, to lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.”. I interpreted this as someone who feels sorry for oneself, but another look at it again can reflect what its part is to the poem itself. The poem has a strong sense of "healing" and "hope" to it
    -Thomas S P1

  22. Overall, I thought that Slyvia Plath’s style of writing was intense, dramatic and for the most part melancholy. Personally, I had a hard time understanding the deeper meaning in her poems because most were very long in length, almost as she was telling a story. However, I did enjoy reading “Mad Girl’s Love Song” since it had a bit of a rhyme scheme. After completing some research of the author’s past life, I came to understand that she had written while she was at Smith College and she even had her first suicide attempt on the 24th of August 1953. This poem definitely is an exemplary piece of her writing that portrays the common theme of depression, schizophrenia, as well as anger. For instance she writes, “ Exit seraphim and Satan’s men: I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.” She also repeats the line “(I think I made you up inside my head)”. I interpreted that she was describing the emotional conflicts she was having inside of her mind during her thoughts of suicide. She wasn’t able to see the world clearly since she was so unstable. And, in this poem, she often “closed her eyes” to possibly escape from society and reality perhaps to hope that her feelings of sorrow would vanish and that her irrational thoughts of suicide were just made up. But, when she reopened them, she is faced with the unhappiness she feels while on earth and feels so troubled.
    Carolyn C Period 5

  23. Sylvia's poetry expresses a deep depression that lies within her. These poems are really dark, morbid and depressing. I haven't read any other poetry that conveys such deep emotion. In "Lady Lazarus" she confesses how she has tried multiple times to kill herself and as a result she has become a master at it. In "Daddy" she tells of her extreme hatred for her father. In "Tulips" she contrasts such a beautiful object with the feelings of depression. These deep, morbid emotions exemplifies the common feelings that people have with depression. She is a voice for depression and how serious this sickness is. I feel like she uses poetry as her diary or biography. Her style is quite confusing though I found my self having to read and hear her poems a couple times. But, I was able to pick up on the sorrow after the first reading. She is a tormented and gifted poet who left this world to early.
    - Owen Boyle P5

  24. After reading some of Sylvia Plath’s poems, I had mixed emotions. On one hand, her poems were way too dark and depressing, as well as confusing, for my taste. However, she was a phenomenal writer that you can tell put a lot of thought and emotion into her poems. I found it interesting that she referenced Nazi Germany and the Holocaust as frequently as she did. I interpreted the poem “Daddy” as Plath comparing her father to Hitler, which I thought was, though sad, a very interesting metaphor to make. I also thought that her opinion on death was very unusual. Most of us fear death and try to avoid coming in contact with it or thinking about it. However, Plath seems to not only fixate on it, but to enjoy the idea of it. In the poem “Lady Lazarus,” she states that “Dying is an art, like everything else. I do it exceptionally well,” and in the poem “Tulips,” she writes, “I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted to lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty. How free it is, you have no idea how free--.” I interpreted that quote as meaning that the was looking forward to her death and thought that it would free her. Overall, I thought that though Sylvia Plath’s poems were too dark and too confusing for me to really enjoy, I can’t deny that they are very well written and interesting to read.

  25. Now read all of the poems by Sylvia Plath, I feel a bit confused. They're very depressing poems. She goes from talking about killing her father to talking about tulips in her hospital. I feel as her thoughts get hectic and tangled in these poems. I don't really like her poetry, as it's depressing, and hard to understand. I did look up summaries for these poems to understand them, but they still befuddle me.
    Scott K. P1

  26. I believe Plath's writing style is very confusing to most people due to it being based on her deeply personal experiences. If I was to write a poem about something as personal as her poem "tulips", which is about her being unable to succumb to death I could assume that most wouldn't easily find meaning in what I'm saying, especially if they are at a very different point in their lives than I am. While I honestly don't necessarily find a lot of meaning in her words I really like her writing style. It isn't flowery or pleasant, it doesn't use a lot of comparisons, it is very matter-of-fact. She doesn't dance around her intentions and her genuine new perspective on these things she writes about makes her work unique and interesting.
    Etta Hanlon

  27. Stas Balaji Period 5
    sorry this is so late, just got home.
    Sylvia Plath's writing can understandably be called similar to the brooding of a teenager due to the subject matter and seemingly whiny tone, but she is certainly an interesting poet beneath all the immediately apparent flaws. The poems are communications of the extreme pain that she felt from the numerous tragedies in her life including her father's death and her divorce. The writing is engaging as it requires the reader to truly think about the exact details while clearly expressing the main theme of the poem. It is interesting to have to go through and analyze her words and then find that she is brutally and honestly telling the truth, both about her life and about other subjects. While many poets may have been content with simple rhyming games or obvious allusions, Plath's skill as a writer clearly shows that she belongs in a different class and it would be very interesting and a bit of a challenge to try and imitate that style.

  28. Sylvia Plath's poems are nothing like anything I have read before. I was very intrigued by her excellent ability to portray emotion and thought through her symbolic writing style. Plath clearly did not have the most enjoyable and glorified life and I appreciated her ability to show this through symbolic and metaphoric language in her poems. Although sometimes dark, I don't think Plath's poems were at all scary or disturbing. Plath's way of expressing emotion is in my opinion very inspiring and respectable. I also gained an entirely new perspective by listening to her read her own poems after reading them to myself several times. This allowed me to hear the ways Plath wanted her writing to be expressed directly from her. I was very interested by her views on death as she touched upon in "Daddy" and "Lady Lazarus." However, I was slightly unsure of the significance behind Plath's comparison in "Daddy" between her father and Nazi Germany, but the negative views she had towards her father really shone through in this poem. Furthermore, it may have been hard to comprehend the tiny details and symbols included in Plath's writing, however, she made her overall messages very clear. I enjoy this style of Plath's writing because I do feel that writing is more interesting when you have to think about the piece and what it may mean.
    -Sam Coleman period 1

  29. Sylvia Plath had an extremely unique way of writing poetry, with an incredibly honest and straight forward style which still managed to come out beautifully. She was able to depict every feeling that we all have for things that happen to us every day and make us think about them in a different way. The way that Sylvia wrote about them made it seem effortless. Since they were all such honest poems, we could really understand what Sylvia was like as person; the good and the bad. The thing that made her stand out from other poets was that she was not afraid to put it all out there for us to read, which is why I really admire her work.
    Paige MacNeil period 5

  30. Amanda D'Aniello Period 5Friday, May 01, 2015 10:16:00 AM

    Plath is a master of rhythm and imagery as well as metaphor. In "Daddy" she uses the suffering of Jewish people during the Jewish Holocaust to portray the powerlessness she felt in relation to her father. In "Lady Lazarus" she uses the story of Lazarus who rose from the dead to portray the feeling of surviving a suicide attempt. In "Tulips" she uses the bright red tulips in contrast with the white hospital room to portray basic drive and survival instinct which continually pull her back from the abyss of suicide. Finally, in "Mirror" her use of metaphor is most obvious.
    In "Daddy" especially, she uses repetition to pull the reader in as well as give energy, electricity, and movement to her poem which is otherwise gruesome and insensitive. It is this exact energy, honesty, and melodrama which forces the reader to forgive Plath for comparing a holocaust to her home life.
    Plath's melodrama is most obvious in her imagery which is masterful. "Daddy" is littered with potent imagery outside of holocaust imagery. Lady Lazarus has such quirky imagery as "The peanut-crunching crowd" and "The pure gold baby" which intrigue the reader and force almost violently a new perspective on them. "Tulips" 's success is dependent entirely on it's imagery. Without the beautiful vibrant image of a bright red tulip, we would be lost in a swirl of "black pill boxes" and Plath's own desire to die.
    In conclusion, Plath is a masterful poet with a unique style and voice that is both brutal and endearing.

  31. I strongly enjoyed Sylvia Plath's poems, as they were very unique. Sylvia Plath, unlike many other poets, enjoys writing about herself, or through herself. Her ability to convey the emotions she feels or experiences is astounding. I read "Mirror", which I thought was really well done. She describes a lake, through herself, and I thought it was a very interesting and unique writing technique. The poem reads, "Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me, Searching my reaches for what she really is." Plath IS the lake, and describes it through herself. I think Plath is a wonderful poet, and her ability reached far beyond writing only dark, deep, and depressing poems.