Black Rook In Rainy Weather - Sylvia Plath # This can be read as a response to Ted Hughes The Hawk in the Rain, in what may be reciprocal contests. It appears to be her first impressions of the English countryside. The poem has many other antecedents like Edgar Alan Poe’s The Raven, Alfred Lord Tennyson’s The Eagle, or less likely Gerard Manly Hopkins’ The Windhover. Sylvia Plath writes evocatively about landscapes and nature.
Daddy - Plath # Context and Background: # The death of her father when she was eight had a profound effect on Sylvia Plath. He died from undiagnosed diabetes, having already suffered the amputation of one foot. Was it the lack of one foot that causes her obsession with “shoes” in this poem? At any rate Plath returns to the death of her father in much of her poetry.
Edge Sylvia Plath # This has all the hallmarks of a suicide note. It is the last poem written by Plath before she put her head in an oven and gassed herself. Suicide has been an ongoing historical problem. Judas felt betrayed by the Jewish authorities, so resorted to it. Hamlet contemplates it; Ophelia commits it. Abraham Lincoln entertained it following his persistent “melancholy”, which had every appearance of severe clinical depression following the death of fiancée Ann Rutledge.
Mad Girl’s Love Song # Mad Girl’s Love Song was officially published in the August 1953 issue of the women’s magazine Mademoiselle when Plath was 21. Betsy Talbot Blackwell, Editor of Mademoiselle took plain young women to New York, where she put them in stylish clothes, restyled their hair and makeup and then put their pictures in her magazine, to “nourish young women inside and out” and indeed her first words of welcome to the 20 guest editors on that June morning included a plea to put “health before genius”.
Ariel # I. Context & Subject Matter # Ariel was the name of the horse Sylvia Plath rode regularly on Dartmoor near the Devon village where she and Ted Hughes lived in 1961, however this poem appears to be based on an earlier ride on a horse called Sam, when it bolted. Ted Hughes, Plath’s husband, comments: “ARIEL was the name of the horse on which she went riding weekly.
Lady Lazarus # 1. Context & Subject Matter # Known for her emotional honesty, Silvia Plath leaves little to our imaginations in these open candid self portrayals. Sylvia Plath was traumatised by the early death of her dominant father when she was eight as she worshiped him. Though Plath was a good student, (winning scholarships to Smith’s College and Cambridge) she was a perfectionist and early already displayed signs of a fragile psyche; schizophrenia or some form of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, perhaps from the early death of her father.
Tulips and other poems from Ariel # Below are some of Sylvia Plath’s more sedate poems regarding life and nature. Many of her poems can be compared to those of Ted Hughes as they worked in harmony throughout most of their seven years of marriage. Her poems tend to be more about the flora and meek natural world, while Ted dealt with the instinctive savagery of our animal natures.
Sylvia Plath # Sylvia Plath was born in Boston, 27^(th) October, 1932 to Otto, a Polish migrant and Aurelia Plath, of Austrian heritage. Both parents were academics, her father a biologist specialising in bees, was domineering, authoritarian and anti-social, dying of diabetes when she was eight. His early death traumatised her as she worshipped him. She prayed to God to save his life but when her mother told her he had died, she pulled the blankets over her head and swore never to talk to God again.
Whiteness I Have Known # I. Context & Subject Matter # In her first year at Cambridge, Plath had hired an old horse called Sam who was expected to be placid, but bolted with the inexperienced rider on his back. It was her first attempt at horse riding – “First horse under me”. While it was a frightening and dangerous experience, Plath recalled it as a time when she felt immensely alive.