I agree with this statement. I believe that the poetry of Sylvia Plath is intense, deeply personal and quite disturbing. During her life it is evident to me that Plath suffered greatly with depression which had a negative impact on her life. Her husband had an affair on her which left Plath feeling as if she wasn’t good enough. Plath was unable to overcome her depression and committed suicide. She considered her life both personally and professionally a failure which is evident in her writing from the poems “Elm”, “Poppies in July”, “Child” and “The Arrival of the Bee Box”, I was able to ascertain that the poetry of Plath is intense, deeply personal and quite disturbing.
Like so much of Plath’s work “Elm” is a poem that is intense, deeply personal and quite disturbing. There are two voices in this poem: that of the personified elm and the woman she addresses. This poem is concerned with the theme of psychological suffering. It is evident to me that this poem is deeply disturbing. This is portrayed through the poet’s use of starting imagery. “I have suffered the atrocity of sunsets. Scorched to the root”. It is apparent to me that the poet is in serious pain. This violent image connotes destruction and torture. In another disturbing image the poet describes how the moon torments the tree. “The moon also, is merciless: she would drag me cruelly, being barren”. This horrifying image has connotations of violence and abuse. I believe that the poet is talking about the relationship with her husband. She is tormented by the fact that he had an affair and made her feel as though she wasn’t good enough. I believe that his poem is also deeply personal. This is cleverly portrayed by Plath’s energetic use of language. She skilfully uses repetition to convey the pain she feels inside “I let her go. I let her go”. She also uses repetition to show that her mental anguish is slowly killing her “that kill, that kill, that kill”. She admits that her depression is getting the better of her and she can suffer no more. It’s also apparent to me that this poem is personal because Plath shares with us her opinion of her husband. Through serpentine imagery Plath conveys her hatred towards her husband, “It’s snaky acids hiss. It petrifies the will”. She describes her husband as sly and furthermore expresses her self- loathing. “These are the isolate, slow faults”.
Just like “Elm” the poem “Child” also portrays how personal Plath’s poetry is. In this poem Plath offers us a deep and moving insight into her life. In this poem she declares her love for her son Nicholas. “You clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing”. Plath expresses how her son is the only beautiful thing in her life. She is depressed and miserable and her son is the only thing keeping her alive. Plath describes how she wants her child’s life to be. She wishes to give her child experiences that will nourish and preserve it’s beauty and innocence. “Should be grand and classical”. While this poem is deeply personal I also find it quite disturbing. In the final stanza Plath conveys how she feels guilty and ashamed I believe that Plath feels failure as a mother because of her depression. “Not this troubulous wringing of hands”. It’s evident to me that the last line is the most disturbing. “This dark ceiling without a star”, from this line I ascertain that the poet feels as though she can’t go on. She feels as though there is no hope and she is frightened by what the depression is doing to her
“Poppies in July” is another poem that is intense and quite disturbing. It’s clear to me that Plath honestly expresses her feelings throughout this poem from the very beginning of this poem, it’s evident to me that this poem is intense. “little poppies, little hell flames, from the first line Plath is already referring to suffering and misery. She expresses how she cannot feel pain. She is numb to it because she has suffered so much. “I cannot touch you”. This poem is also intense as Plath conveys her anger and frustration. “little bloody skirts”. I believe that the “bloody skirts” refers to the women her husband has been having an affair with. The poet is clearly angry at them for ruining her marriage. It’s clear to me that this poem is quite disturbing. Plath uses a lot of violent imagery to portray her psychological pain. “I put my hands among the flames nothing burns”. She also expresses her desire to self-harm. “If I could bleed or sleep”. I was shocked when she admitted that she wanted to escape oblivion. “Where are your opiates, your nauseous capsules?” I truly pitied Plath when she disturbingly confessed that she wanted to die a slow painful death. I found it hard to understand how anyone would want to die that way. “But colorless. Colorless.”
“The arrival of the Bee Box” evidently portrays how personal Plath’s poems are. In this poem Plath has ordered a “Bee Box” and now she can’t get rid of it. “square as a chair and almost too heavy to lift.” She ordered the bee box and asked for it. But I believe that the bee box stands for her depression. Plath feels as though she brought it onto herself. “There are no windows…no exit”. It’s clear to me that the poet feels trapped and she can’t escape. The poet expresses how she feels weak and vulnerable “I am not a Caesar”. But she is taking control and trying to make herself feel better. “I am the owner”. I believe that the poet is trying to take control of her depression and overcome it. I find the last stanza to be disturbing. It is evident to me that the poet is in denial. “Tomorrow I will be sweet God, I will set them free”. The poet believes that by setting them free they will go away and leave her alone. “The box is only temporary”. The poet is reassuring herself that it won’t last. But I don’t think she realises that it takes time to overcome depression. It doesn’t just happen overnight.
In conclusion, I agree that the poetry of Plath is intense, deeply personal and quite disturbing. I believe that her poems were an escape mechanism for her. It’s clear to me that she used them as a form of cathartic therapy. I feel sorry for her that she couldn’t overcome her mental anguish. I do not believe her life was a failure both personally and professionally.
By Caoimhe McFadden, 5th Year