><><> Updated 2 April 2016 ><><>
‘A Mad Girl’s Love Song; Sylvia Plath And Life Before Ted’
by Andrew Wilson is …
A MUST READ FOR ALL SYLVIA PLATH FANS… a comprehensive biography which certainly helps the reader to better interpret Plath’s poetry. I believe that Plath never fully recovered from the sudden death of her father when she was eight years old. His presence ameliorated somewhat his wife’s obsessiveness over their daughter’s upbringing. After he died, her mother’s interference in Plath’s education and later, her life choices, stifled her creativeness and her sense of her place in the world.
Eventually Sylvia Plath would commit suicide by putting her head in a gas oven while her two children slept in the next room. She was 30 years old. Her previous attempt at suicide , which she barely survived, was dramatic and bizarre. She had suffered from severe depression since her teens and had been treated with sleeping pills and ECT. She was also an insomniac.
Her husband, the poet Ted Hughes, left her for another woman. Sylvia struggled to care for their two young children, and to earn enough money, while continuing to write. She was not close to her possessive mother, but found it difficult to escape her over-bearing influence. During the early stages of her treatment, she was advised not to have any contact with her mother. Ted Hughes remarried, and his second wife also committed suicide, four years after their marriage.
Sylvia Plath’s son, Nicholas, killed himself in 2009 following a history of depression.
Rear cover of The Bell Jar (click on image to enlarge)
Semi-autobiographical, The Bell Jar is well worth reading, if you wish to know more about Sylvia Plath from her own perspective. It also features some of her pen and ink drawings.
-Anne Frandi-Coory 14 December 2011
Viciousness in the kitchen!
The potatoes hiss!
It is all Hollywood, windowless,
The flourescent light wincing on and off like a terrible migraine,
Coy paper strips for doors –
Stage curtains – a widow’s frizz.
And, I, love, am a pathological liar,
And my child, look at her, face down on the floor,
Little unstrung puppet, kicking to disappear –
Why she is schizophrenic,
Her face red and white, a panic,
You have stuck her kittens outside your window
In a sort of cement well
Where they crap and puke and cry and she can’t hear.
You say you can’t stand her,
the bastards a girl.
You who have blown your tubes like a bad radio
Clear of voices and history, the staticky
Noise of the new.
You say I should drown the kittens. Their smell!
You say I should drown my girl.
She’ll cut her throat at ten if she’s mad at two.
The baby smiles, fat snail,
From the polished lozenges of orange linoleum.
You could eat him. He’s a boy.
You say your husband is just no good to you.
His Jew-Mama guards his sweet sex like a pearl.
You have one baby, I have two.
I should sit on a rock off Cornwall and comb my hair.
I should wear tiger pants, I should have an affair.
We should meet in another life, we should meet in air,
Me and you.
Meanwhile there’s a stink of fat and baby crap.
I’m doped and thick from my last sleeping pill.
The smog of cooking, the smog of hell.
Floats our heads, two venomous opposites,
Our bones, our hair.
I call you Orphan, orphan. You are ill.
The sun gives you ulcers, the wind gives you T.B.
Once you were beautiful.
In New York, in Hollywood, the men said: ‘Through?
Gee baby, you are rare.’
You acted, acted, acted for the thrill.
The impotent husband slumps out for a coffee.
I try to keep him in,
An old pole for he lightning,
The acid baths, the skyfuls off of you.
He lumps it down the plastic cobbled hill,
Flogged trolley. The sparks are blue.
The blue sparks spill,
Splitting like quartz into a million bits.
O jewel! O valuable!
That night the moon
Dragged its blood bag, sick
Up over the harbor lights.
And then grew normal,
Hard and apart and white.
The scale-sheen on the sand scared me to death.
We kept picking up handfuls, loving it,
Working it like dough, a mulatto body,
The silk grits.
A dog picked up your doggy husband. He went on.
Now I am silent, hate
Up to my neck,
I do not speak.
I am packing the hard potatoes like good clothes,
I am packing the babies,
I am packing the sick cats.
O vase of acid,
It is love you are full of. You know who you hate.
He is hugging his ball and chain down by the gate
That opens to the sea
Where it drives in, white and black,
The spews it back.
Every day you fill him with soul-stuff, like a pitcher.
You are so exhausted.
Your voice, my ear-ring,
Flapping and sucking, blood-loving bat.
That is that. That is that.
You peer from the door,
Sad hag, ‘Every woman’s a whore.
I can’t communicate’.
I see your cute décor
Close on you like the fist of a baby
Or an anemone, that sea
Sweetheart, that kleptomaniac.
I am still raw.
I say I may be back.
You know what lies are for.
Even in your Zen heaven we shant meet.
Plath’s pen & ink drawings from ‘The Bell Jar’