Sylvia Plath

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Plath herself said that her poetry ‘come immediately out of the sensuous and emotional experiences I have’. Write a short essay on how Plath expresses those experiences in her poetry. Support your discussion with quotation from or reference to the poems you have studied.

For the purpose of this essay I am going to discuss how Sylvia Plath’s poetry allows me to journey with her through personal experiences, and emotions that she feels. This is achieved by several features of her poetry, such as enjambment, the seriousness of her poetry and at times disturbing imagery. Plath was – be consistent in the tense that you are using – you said how Plath feels earlier and here you say Plath was – an artisan, dedicated to her craft. Plath’s life was emotionally complicated and complex. Plath was born in Boston; her father was a professor of biology at Boston University.

He later figured as a major image of persecution in some of his daughter’s best well known poems. His death in 1940 had a profound effect on her, so great that she lost all hope in the existence of God as he took her father away. He suffered terribly before he died and that cause a lot of stress in the family – just another point you might add if you wish. Plath excelled in school and began to plan diligently at a young age for her writing career. At the end of college, when Plath was twenty one she attempted suicide. Later on in her life, she married Ted Hughes who was a famous writer. Her marriage and perfect life went crumbling to pieces when Hughes cheated on her and wanted a divorce, leaving Plath in a numb state of mind. To illustrate this the poems I shall use to show how Plath’s poetry speaks of her sensuous and emotional experiences are ‘Morning Song’, ‘Child’, ‘Mirror’, ‘Elm’, ‘Poppies in July’ and ‘Arrival of the bee box’. You probably focus too much on her biography – there won’t be time in the exam to reproduce all this detail.

As I read through Plath’s poetry I noticed that it had a sense of urgency and intensity. I believe that this allows her to be present emotionally with her work and invites me as a reader to share in her views on life. The poem ‘Morning Song’ celebrates the birth of Frieda Hughes, Plath’s first child. Plath chooses this title deliberately to show her happiness and warmth towards the child. She never fails to inform the readers of what was going on and how she felt about the birth of her new born saying “Love set you going like a gold watch”. Here Plath compares her baby to something that is precious and makes use of sound in conveying this message. She draws on her experience of labour and tells us that the baby’s “bald cry/ Took its place in the elements”, telling me that she is now at ease and complete when the baby has arrived. The assonance of the ‘ah’ and ‘ooh’ sounds mimic the baby talks of new parents and lets us see Plath’s state of mind at that time.

Plath wrote the poem ‘Child’ two weeks before her death and is charged with a heart-breaking sadness. She invites us into her world of depression “this troublous/ Wringing of hands” and tells us of her distress. Plath was depressed because at this time her husband had remarried another woman, she had gone through a miscarriage and was now a single parent. However, it would be wrong to only view this poem in that light. Plath also uses this poem as an avenue to tell us how much she loves her child; so much that she wants to “fill it with ducks and colours” away from the darkness of the world. The tone of this poem is immediate and involved. The use of enjambment in this poem creates a gentle momentum.- very nice! It gives it a flowing sound and reflects Plath’s slightly calm and mood. The repetition of broad vowels such as “dark” “troublous” and “star” create the gloomy atmosphere that I believe dominates this poem, knowing so much about Plath. In this poem, Plath’s out pour of emotions left me feeling troubled. I say this because in one sense I see her care and...
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