Friday, April 9, 2010

friday Mieography

Sylvia Plath was born during the Great Depression, in Massachusetts. Her mother, Aurelia, was a first generation American of Austrian descent, and her father, Otto, was an immigrant from Germany. He was a professor of biology and German at Boston University, and he wrote a book about bumblebees. His wife was 21 years his junior. He was alienated from his family, because he did not become a Lutheran minister like they wanted him to be.

Eventually, a younger brother was born, Warren. At eight years old, Sylvia's first poem was published in the Boston Herald, in the children's section. Sadly, a week and a half after her eighth birthday, her father passed away. Interestingly, he didn't have to die. One of his friends had died of lung cancer, and, convinced he had lung cancer, he completely ignored his diabetes, and died of complications following the amputation of his foot because of this.
After her father died, her mother moved she and her children in with her parents, in Wellesley, Mass.
Sylvia attended Smith College, and dated a young man named Dick, who fell ill with TB. He was sent to a Sanatorium, and while visiting him, Sylvia broke her leg in a skiing accident. Her third year in college, Sylvia went to NYC for a month, as a guest editor at Mademoiselle magazine. It was not a good experience for her, and her first medically documented suicide attempt soon followed. She crawled under the house, and took sleeping pills. She was committed to a mental institution, where she was treated with Shock Therapy. She recovered, returned to college, and graduated with honors. She continued her education, obtaining a Fulbright Scholarship to Newnham College, in Cambridge. She continued to write poetry, and was published in the student newspaper. At a party, she met an English poet named Ted Hughes, whom she married.
They relocated to the United States, where, initially, Sylvia taught at her alma mater, Smith College. They eventually moved to Boston, where Sylvia audited seminars. When they discovered Sylvia was pregnant with their first child, they moved back to the UK. She published her first book, a collection of poetry called "The Colossus." She also suffered a miscarriage of her pregnancy. Her marriage was difficult, especially because her husband had a girlfriend. They eventually separated. They had two children, a boy and a girl.
Sylvia Plath died, by all accounts, by her own hand. She completely sealed the rooms between her sleeping children and herself, with wet towels, and stuck her head in the gas oven. It has been suggested by some that she did not mean to actually die, however, because she'd asked a downstairs neighbor about what time he actually left, daily, and had left him a note to call the doctor. Whatever she meant, her head was far enough in, and die, she did. She was found by the au pair hired to look after her children. Royalties from her vast body of work were placed into a trust fund for her children. Here then, is one of my favorite poems by Sylvia:

Sylvia Plath - A Life

Touch it: it won't shrink like an eyeball, This egg-shaped bailiwick, clear as a tear. Here's yesterday, last year --- Palm-spear and lily distinct as flora in the vast Windless threadwork of a tapestry.  Flick the glass with your fingernail: It will ping like a Chinese chime in the slightest air stir Though nobody in there looks up or bothers to answer. The inhabitants are light as cork, Every one of them permanently busy.  At their feet, the sea waves bow in single file. Never trespassing in bad temper: Stalling in midair,  Short-reined, pawing like paradeground horses. Overhead, the clouds sit tasseled and fancy  As Victorian cushions. This family Of valentine faces might please a collector: They ring true, like good china.  Elsewhere the landscape is more frank. The light falls without letup, blindingly.  A woman is dragging her shadow in a circle About a bald hospital saucer. It resembles the moon, or a sheet of blank paper And appears to have suffered a sort of private blitzkrieg. She lives quietly  With no attachments, like a foetus in a bottle, The obsolete house, the sea, flattened to a picture She has one too many dimensions to enter. Grief and anger, exorcised, Leave her alone now.  The future is a grey seagull Tattling in its cat-voice of departure. Age and terror, like nurses, attend her, And a drowned man, complaining of the great cold, Crawls up out of the sea.


Mimi said...

I've never gotten around to reading "The Bell Jar" but I should.

sybil law said...

I love, love, love Sylvia Plath.

Bubblewench said...

She rocks. Great Mieogrophy!