Sylvia Plath

My first interaction with famed writer and poet Sylvia Plath was through a tribute twitter account (itssylviaplath). I knew about Plath, of course, but I was not in any way familiar with her work or her life.

Over time, I have read her novel The Bell Jar, read her poems, learned a lot more about her tragically short life, including her relationship with Ted Hughes, and I have come to appreciate her art.

I love coming across quotes that resonate with me, quotes that express so clearly my feelings and that enunciate the thoughts that swirl around my head. It is for this reason that I love Rumi and Langston Hughes. Sylvia Plath is the third member of this trinity.

Sylvia was depressed for most of her life, and she attempted suicide a few times before she finally succeeded in 1963 at the age of 30. A lot of her quotes are gotten from The Bell Jar, and they are not necessarily happy and joyful, but rather introspective, questioning and sometimes dark. I am not depressed, but I connect with some of her quotes, and I think that a lot of people, particularly young people trying to make sense of life, would as well.

Here are some of my favourite Sylvia Plath quotes.

Biggest fear.

What horrifies me most is the idea of being useless: well-educated, brilliantly promising, and fading out into an indifferent middle age.

Ideal life

At any rate, I admit that I am not strong enough, or rich enough, or independent enough, to live up in actuality to my ideal standards.

I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.

I am gone quite mad with the knowledge of the overwhelming number of things I can never know, places I can never go, people I can never be.

 

On self

I am myself. That is not enough.

I have a self to recover, a queen. Is she dead, is she sleeping? Where has she been, with her lion-red body, her wings of glass?

So many people shut up tight inside themselves like boxes would open up, unfolding quite wonderfully, if only you were interested in them.

It’s a hell of a responsibility to be yourself. It’s much easier to be somebody else or nobody at all.

Loneliness.

Loneliness is like a disease of the blood,

dispersed throughout the body

so that one cannot locate the matrix,

the spot of contagion.

Living in the present.

The hardest thing is to live richly in the present without letting it be tainted out of fear for the future or regret for the past.

Who am I? What do I want?

I am very tired, very banal, very confused. I do not know who I am tonight.

What is my life for and what am I going to do with it? I don’t know and I’m afraid.

Something in me wants more. I can’t rest.

One of those nights when I wonder if I am alive, or have been ever.

It is awful to want to go away and to want to go nowhere

I do not know who I am, where I am going – and I am the one who has to decide the answers to these hideous questions.

I felt very still and empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo.

On companionship

How we need another soul to cling to, another body to keep us warm. To rest and trust; to give your soul in confidence: I need this.

I need someone real, who will be right for me now, here, and soon. Until then I’m lost. I think I am mad at times.

Laziness

Do I love laziness more than I love the feeling of accomplishing work? I take the path of least resistance and curl up with a book.

Finally,

The most terrifying realization is that so many millions in the world would like to be in my place.

Why is crying so pleasurable? I feel clean, absolutely purged after it. As if I had a grief to get over with, some deep sorrow.

 

Do you have a favourite Plath quote that is not here? A favourite quotable writer/poet? Share!

 

 

How dreadfully boring.

Danish Philosopher,Søren Kierkergaard had a bit to say about boredom.

How dreadful boredom is — how dreadfully boring; I know no stronger expression, no truer one, for like is recognised only by like… I lie prostrate, inert; the only thing I see is emptiness, the only thing I live on is emptiness, the only thing I move in is emptiness. I do not even suffer pain… Pain itself has lost its refreshment for me. If I were offered all the glories of the world or all the torments of the world, one would move me no more than the other; I would not turn over to the other side either to attain or to avoid. I am dying death. And what could divert me? Well, if I managed to see a faithfulness that withstood every ordeal, an enthusiasm that endured everything, a faith that moved mountains; if I were to become aware of an idea that joined the finite and the infinite.

We are all bored, and there is no avoiding it.

Adam was bored because he was alone; therefore Eve was created. Since that moment, boredom entered the world and grew in quantity in exact proportion to the growth of population. Adam was bored alone; then Adam and Eve were bored together; then Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel were bored en famille. After that, the population of the world increased and the nations were bored en masse.

 

Read more here:

Kierkegaard on Boredom, Why Cat Listicles Fail to Answer the Soul’s Cry, and the Only True Cure for Existential Emptiness