Sylvia Plath

American Poet with a Death Obsession

Biography

Sylvia Plath was undoubtedly the most amazing female poet of her time. Starting her English career at the age of eight, she was a model student and already a great poem writer. She was born into a middle class family in Massachusetts. She was clearly driven to write poems due to the death of her father, also at age eight. She attempted suicide through overdosing as a student and failed, later recounting the memory in an autobiography. After finishing at Smith College, she married a poet named Ted Hughes at the age of 28, and then moved to England with him. She had also received a scholarship that allowed her to study in Cambridge. However, as time passed, and Sylvia bore children, the happy marriage soon shattered into pieces. Going through many hardships, and writing many poems during this time, she ended her life on February 11, 1963 with oven gas. (Sourced from sylviaplath.de)

The Beast

"The Beast" is a poem about Sylvia's husband, Ted Hughes. In the beginning of the poem, she describes how charming he is, blowing her kisses, her lucky animal. However, the rest of the poem describes his bad qualities. He is persistent, and any dwelling is good enough for him to live in, regardless of how terrible it is. Similarly, she describes how he will come to any name that is called to him, exemplifying his disloyalty. At the end of the poem, she goes on to describe that she is stuck in this marriage with him and how it is always terrible being with him.

The Colossus

A poem about her father, "The Colossus" is one way that Sylvia Plath dealt with the death of her father. She describes how she can never piece him back together; how he will never return to life. She goes on to describe how she mourns him, and compares him to a Roman Forum. She admits that she isn't able to let go of his death, and is drenched in darkness because of it. The poem has a semi-consistent repetition of a line per stanza with but a single major word.

Doomsday

This poem summarizes Sylvia's thoughts on the inevitability of death. She says the universal clock is crowed in lunatic thirteens, showing that there is no luck in death, and that it may happen at any time. She also describes how it is too late to regret anything once you die. There is a rhyming pattern of ABCCBA in the first stanza, CBC in the the second, third, and fourth stanzas, and ABAC in the last stanza. There are also two sentences that repeat in a normal pattern in each stanza on the last line, with the last stanza containing both sentences on the last two lines.

Lady Lazarus

One of Sylvia Plath's most famous poems, "Lady Lazarus" is a poem about suicide. "Lady Lazarus" is an allusion to a biblical character whom Jesus resurrected. In the poem, she dies every ten years, only to return back to life each time. She says that much like a cat, she holds nine lives. She also describes dying as an art. This comparison to art, and the inclusion of a crowd leads to the conclusion that she is performing these acts of death and resurrection as if it were a theater show. She seems to despise the crowd as she is resurrected, but seems to enjoy them as she is committing the act of death. Ultimately, this poem characterizes Plath's obsession with death and suicide.