photo of Sylvia PlathPhoto Credit: WikiMedia Commons

Quotes by Sylvia Plath

Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Sylvia Plath. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.

Wikipedia Summary for Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath (October 27, 1932 – February 11, 1963) was an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer. She is credited with advancing the genre of confessional poetry and is best known for two of her published collections, The Colossus and Other Poems (1960) and Ariel (1965), as well as The Bell Jar, a semi-autobiographical novel published shortly before her death in 1963. The Collected Poems were published in 1981, which included many previously unpublished works. For this collection Plath was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1982, making her the fourth to receive this honour posthumously.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Plath studied at Smith College in Massachusetts and at Newnham College in Cambridge, England. She married fellow poet Ted Hughes in 1956, and they lived together in the United States and then in England. Their relationship was tumultuous, as Plath wrote in letters about the abuse she suffered at his hands. They had two children before separating in 1962.

Plath was clinically depressed for most of her adult life, and was treated multiple times with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). She killed herself in 1963.

There is something suspect, especially in America, about people who don't have ten-year plans for a career or at least a regular job.

What did my arms do before they held you?

If the moon smiled, she would resemble you. You leave the same impression Of something beautiful, but annihilating.

If winter comes can spring be... We're nearer to spring than we were in September, i heard a bird sing in the dark of December, January, Febmar, aprimay, apricots, beneath the bough.

Can nothingness be so prodigal?

Sometimes I feel so stupid and dull and uncreative that I am amazed when people tell me differently.

I deserve that, don't I, some sort of blazing love that I can live with.

Aloneness and selfness are too important to betray for company.

The blood jet is poetry,
There is no stopping it.

I want to be important. By being different. And these girls are all the same.

The eyes and faces all turned themselves towards me, and guiding myself by them, as by a magical thread, I stepped into the room.

The moon is no door. It is a face in its own right,
White as a knuckle and terribly upset.
It drags the sea after it like a dark crime; it is quiet
With the O-gape of complete despair. I live here.

I am not cruel --
only truthful.

My dream was one day ordering a drink and finding out it tasted wonderful.

Stupid girl. You will never win anyone through pity. You must create the right kind of dream, the sober, adult kind of magic: illusion born from disillusion.

You will never win anyone through pity. You must create the right kind of dream, the sober, adult kind of magic: illusion born from disillusion.

To annihilate the world by annihilation of oneself is the deluded height of desperate egoism.

And there's the fallacy of existence: the idea that one could be happy forever and age with a given situation or series of accomplishments.

I feel occasionally my skull will crack, fatigue is continuous -- I only go from less exhausted to more exhausted and back again.

I shall doggedly work, wait and expect the minimum.

If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed.

Beached under the spumy blooms, we lie Sea-sick and fever-dry.

The frost makes a flower, the dew makes a star.

Frustrated? Yes. Why? Because it is impossible for me to be God -- or the universal woman-and-man -- or anything much. I am what I feel and think and do. I want to express my being as fully
as I can because I somewhere picked up the idea that I could justify my being alive that way.

How long can I be a wall, keeping the wind off?
How long can I be
Gentling the sun with the shade of my hand,
Intercepting the blue bolts of a cold moon?
The voices of loneliness, the voices of sorrow
Lap at my back ineluctably.
How shall it soften them, this little lullaby?

Sometimes I feel like I'm not solid. I'm hollow. There's nothing behind my eyes. I'm a negative of a person. All I want is blackness, blackness and silence.

I like people, but to learn about one individual always appeals to me more than anything.

He just wanted to see what a girl who was crazy enough to kill herself looked like.

I liked looking on at other people in crucial situations. If there was a road accident or a street fight or a baby pickled in a laboratory jar for me to look at, I'd stop and look so hard I never forgot it.

Love set you going like a fat gold watch. The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry Took its place among the elements.

Slowly, slowly, catch the monkey.

He was always saying how his mother said, What a man wants is a mate and what a woman wants is infinite security,' and, 'What a man is is an arrow into the future and a what a woman is is the place the arrow shoots off from, until it made me tired.

A terrible depression yesterday. Visions of my life petering out into a kind of soft-brained stupor from lack of use.

The door of the novel, like the door of the poem, also shuts. But not so fast, nor with such manic, unanswerable finality.

What obsession do men have for destruction and murder? Why do we electrocute men for murdering an individual and then pin a purple heart on them for mass slaughter of someone arbitrarily labeled 'enemy?'

I am solitary as grass. What is it I miss?
Shall I ever find it, whatever it is?

There is a charge For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge For the hearing of my heart -- It really goes. And there is a charge, a very large charge, For a word or a touch Or a bit of blood Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.

I am too pure for you or anyone.

I smile, now, thinking: we all like to think we are important enough to need psychiatrists.

A fierce brief fusion which dreamers call real, and realists, an illusion; an insight like the flight of birds.

I am afraid of getting married. Spare me from cooking three meals a dayspare me from the relentless cage of routine and rote.

I could never be a complete scholar or a complete housewife ora completewriter: Imustcombinea little of all, and thereby be imperfect in all.

I couldn't stand the idea of a woman having to have a single pure life and a man being able to have a double life, one pure and one not.

With me, the present is forever, and forever is always shifting, flowing, melting. This second is life. And when it is gone it is dead. But you can't start over with each new second. You have to judge by what is dead. It's like quicksand... hopeless from the start.

I have this demon who wants me to run away screaming if I am going to be flawed, fallible. It wants me to think I'm so good I must be perfect. Or nothing. I am, on the contrary, something: a being who gets tired, has shyness to fight, has more trouble than most facing people easily.

They had to call and call And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

Doing all the little tricky things it takes to grow up, step by step, into an anxious and unsettling world.

It is best to meet in a cul-de-sac, A palace of velvet With windows of mirrors. There one is safe, There are no family photographs, No rings through the nose, no cries.

I want to kill myself, to escape from responsiblity, to crawl abjectly back into the womb.

I must be lean and write and make worlds beside this to live in.

I think writers are the most narcissistic people. Well, I musn't say this, I like many of them, a great many of my friends are writers.

Almost, I think, the unreasoning, bestial purity was best.

The human mind is so limited it can only build an arbitrary heaven -- and usually the physical comforts they endow it with are naively the kind that can be perceived as we humans perceive -- nothing more.

A man's world is different from a woman's world and a man's emotions are different from a woman's emotions and only marriage can bring the two different sets of emotions together properly.

Why can't I try on different lives, like dresses, to see which fits best and is more becoming?

You must create the right kind of dream, the sober, adult kind of magic: illusion born from disillusion.

Bright beads of red are rising through the ink, Hearts-blood bubbles smearing out into the black stream.

Let me not be weak and tell others how bleeding I am internally; how day by day it drips, and gathers, and congeals.

I could feel the winter shaking my bones and banging my teeth together.

I am sure there are things that can't be cured by a good bath but I can't think of one.

I'm sarcastic, skeptical, and sometimes callous because I'm still afraid, deep down, of letting myself be hurt.

After all, I wasn't crippled in any way, I just studied too hard, I didn't know when to stop.

But perhaps the most overlooked feature of her life was that she was human, and therefore fallible.

I looked on my stomach and saw Frieda Rebecca, white as flour with the cream that covers new babies, funny little dark squiggles of hair plastered over her head, with big, dark-blue eyes.

God, it was good to let go, let the tight mask fall off, and the bewildered, chaotic fragments pour out. It was the purge, the catharsis.

And I sit here without identity: faceless. My head aches.

He taught me how to eat avocados by melting grape jelly and french dressing together in a saucepan and filling the cup of the pear with the garnet sauce.

I would rather be a mediocre writer than a bad actress.

You are the one. Solid the spaces lean on, envious. You are the baby in the barn.

There was a beautiful time.

There ought, I thought, to be a ritual for being born twice -- patched, retreaded and approved for the road.

The floor seemed wonderfully solid. It was comforting to know I had fallen and could fall no farther.

I collected men with interesting names. I already knew a Socrates. He was tall and ugly and intellectual and the son of some big Greek movie producer in Hollywood, but also a Catholic, which ruined it for both of us.

I am made, crudely, for success.

I couldn't see the point of getting up. I had nothing to look forward to.

There I went again, building up a glamorous picture of a man who would love me passionately the minute he met me, and all out of a few prosy nothings.

I ride earth's burning carousel. Day in, day out.

What I didn't say was that each time I picked up a German dictionary or a German book, the very sight of those dense, black, barbed-wire letters made my mind shut like a clam.

There is a certain clinical satisfaction in seeing just how bad things can get.

The first time I saw a fingerbowl was at the home of my benefactress. ... The water had a few cherry blossoms in it, and I thought it must be some clear sort of Japanese after-dinner soup and ate every bit of it, including the crisp little blossoms.

Can a selfish egocentric jealous and unimaginative female write a damn thing worthwhile?

I felt overstuffed and dull and disappointed, the way I always do the day after Christmas.

Hour by hour, day by day, life becomes possible.

I may never be happy, but tonight I am content.

Longer Version:

I may never be happy, but tonight I am content. At times like this I'd call myself a fool to ask for more.

I wanted to crawl in between those black lines of print, the way you crawl through a fence, and go to sleep under that beautiful big green fig-tree.

I'd say go to hell, but I never want to see you again.

They would grow old. They would forget me.

I fancied you'd return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.).

I hate Technicolor. Everybody in a Technicolor movie seems to feel obliged to wear a lurid costume in each new scene and to stand around like a clotheshorse with a lot of very green trees or very yellow wheat or very blue ocean rolling away for miles and miles in every direction.

I never feel so much myself as when I'm in a hot bath.

Longer Version:

I never feel so much myself as when I'm in a hot bath.
I lay in that tub on the seventeenth floor of this hotel for-women-only, high up over the jazz and push of New York, for near onto an hour, and I felt myself growing pure again. I don't believe in baptism or the waters of Jordan or anything like that, but I guess I feel about a hot bath the way those religious people feel about holy water.

I didn't know what I was doing in New York.

I like you, but not too much. I don't want to like anybody too much.

Tonight I am ugly. I have lost all faith in my ability to attract males, and in the female animal that is a rather pathetic malady ... I don't care about anyone, and the feeling is quite obviously mutual. What is it that makes one attract others?

Intoxicated with madness, I'm in love with my sadness.

But everybody has exactly the same smiling frightened face, with the look that says: I'm important. If you only get to know me, you will see how important I am. Look into my eyes. Kiss me, and you will see how important I am.

Is to throw together events from my own life, fictionalizing to add color--it's a pot boiler really, but I think it will show how isolated a person feels when he is suffering a breakdown ... I've tried to picture my world and the people in it as seen through the distorting lens of a bell jar.

I am still so naïve; I know pretty much what I like and dislike; but please, don't ask me who I am. A passionate, fragmentary girl, maybe?

I didn't really see why people should look at me. Plenty of people looked queerer than I did.

To learn and think; to think and live; to live and learn: this always, with new insight, new understanding, and new love.

Let's face it: I'm scared, scared and frozen. First, I guess, I'm afraid for myself...the old primitive urge for survival. It's getting so I live every moment with terrible intensity.

Antoine St. Exupery once mourned the loss of a man and the secret treasures that he held inside him. I loved Exupery; I will read him again, and he will talk to me, not being dead, or gone. Is that life after death -- mind living on paper and flesh living in offspring? Maybe. I do not know.

And I, stepping from this skin Of old bandages, boredoms, old faces Step to you from the black car of Lethe, Pure as a baby.

For the few little successes I may seem to have, there are acres of misgivings and self-doubt.

The only reason I remembered this play was because it had a mad person in it, and everything I had ever read about mad people stuck in my mind, while everything else flew out.

I am sending back the key that let me into bluebeard's study; because he would make love to me I am sending back the key; in his eye's darkroom I can see my X-rayed heart, dissected body: I am sending back the key that let me into bluebeard s study.

The claw of the magnolia, drunk on its own scents, asks nothing of life.

I hurl my heart to halt his pace.

Yes, there is joy, fulfillment and companionship but the loneliness of the soul in its appalling self-consciousness is horrible and overpowering.

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