Serving up this steaming pile of
Celebrity Gossip
Gay Politics
Gay News
and Pointless Bitchery
Since 1995

Sylvia Plath

Blazing genius or overrated drama queen?

Also, who's better: Anne Sexton or Sylvia?

by Lady Lazarusreply 13112/03/2013

Please, Sylvia Plath isn't even on the same planet as Anne Sexton. And Sexton isn't even that good.

by Lady Lazarusreply 112/09/2010

I kind of find her work overrated.

by Lady Lazarusreply 212/09/2010

Some of Plath's poems are amazing, e.g., "In Plaster."

by Lady Lazarusreply 312/09/2010

The contemporary American academy considers Plath one of the major American poets of the twentieth century. Along with John Ashbery, Robert Lowell, Frank O'Hara, and Charles Olson (among others), she is considered one of the most important post-WWII American poets. The more autobiographical poems (e.g. "Daddy," "Medusa," "Lady Lazarus") are not considered to be as good as some of the more difficult poems (e.g. "Rabbit Catcher," "Blackberrying," "Elm Tree," "Tulips," "In Plaster") that do not buy as much into the sensationalized Plath/Hughes biographical mythos.

Anne Sexton is not considered by poetry scholars to be as canonical, although she remains very popular. She is assigned less frequently in college courses than Plath is.

by Lady Lazarusreply 412/09/2010

What's your personal opinion, R4?

I adore Plath but am very fond of Sexton.

by Lady Lazarusreply 512/09/2010

They're both good poets and worth reading, but Plath had a more unusual mind. The poems she wrote in the last year of her life are more powerful than anything her contemporaries were writing at that time--and she had some heavy-hitting contemporaries, like Adrienne Rich, W.S. Merwin, etc.

by Lady Lazarusreply 612/09/2010

I adore Sexton, not into Olson or Merwin, and Plath had a few good gems but not overall ("Daddy was a Nazi") for instance, that speak to me....

But Sexton raped her daughter continuously, so it's hard for me to read her.

by Lady Lazarusreply 712/09/2010

I like both poets very much, though Sexton after LIVE OR DIE began to write in a very undisciplined style most of my fellow academics dislike (but for which I have always harbored a fondness).

I do think Plath was the greater talent overall, though. It's hard to think of many poetry books after WWII as consistently excellent as ARIEL.

by Lady Lazarusreply 812/09/2010

My mistake: it's "Elm," not "Elm Tree."

by Lady Lazarusreply 912/09/2010

Plath wins.

by Lady Lazarusreply 1012/09/2010

Sexton wins. Plath needed to play at suicide to get her writing juices flowing, but screwed up and made the last attempt real.

by Lady Lazarusreply 1112/09/2010

Suicide Blonde

by Lady Lazarusreply 1212/09/2010

Plath was the better poet. But she *was* a drama queen, and her suicide undoubtedly enhanced her reputation. She is a bit over-rated IMO.

by Lady Lazarusreply 1312/09/2010

R15 appears to be more than a little paranoid.

by Lady Lazarusreply 1612/09/2010

I can't stand Plath.

by Lady Lazarusreply 1712/09/2010

Big bush supporter.

by Lady Lazarusreply 1912/09/2010

Ted Hughes was the true genius, and really brought out the best in Plath - artistically, at least.

by Lady Lazarusreply 2112/09/2010

I am going through my Plath phase, so it is nice seeing this thread. I have only read The Bell Jar and I am currently reading her biography, and then I plan to read her poetry and journals. I am going through some difficult time personally, so I find Plath's companionship comforting. I am relate to her work.

by Lady Lazarusreply 2210/07/2011

r20, neither Sylvia Plath nor Anne Sexton was Jewish.

by Lady Lazarusreply 2310/07/2011

It was difficult to portray someone living in such common surroundings, but I gave it my best. What a tragic person she was, poor and with no sense of style.


by Lady Lazarusreply 2410/07/2011

Anne Sexton. Her history is way more interesting plus she made music of a beatnik nature...

by Lady Lazarusreply 2510/08/2011

I have to admit, I have only read Plath's Bell Jar. I found it lacking.

My knee-jerk response was to say Sexton but I need to read some Plath poetry before I answer.

by Lady Lazarusreply 2610/08/2011

I wouldn't call her a genius, but Plath did create some enduring poetry. So did Sexton. I don't think you can compare them. They were very different, although both of them were very disturbed, mentally ill women.

by Lady Lazarusreply 2710/08/2011

Love Sylvia's dry wit.

by Lady Lazarusreply 2810/08/2011

She was a hot fucking mess.

by Lady Lazarusreply 2910/08/2011

sylvia plath & anne sexton | the art & the artists of self destruction no. 1

by Lady Lazarusreply 3010/08/2011

That is what I like about Plath, r28.

by Lady Lazarusreply 3110/08/2011

Sexton is an awful poet.

Turgid, obvious, and dull.

Plath is a great poet.

Sexton is no way in Plath's category, and it's offensive to Plath to suggest that she belongs in some sub-group with Sexton.

by Lady Lazarusreply 3210/08/2011

r15, you're way wrong. r14 is not the "stop-hating women" guy. I'm the stop-hating-women guy, and I'm r32. And Sexton is a wretchedly bad poet, and it's too bad for Plath that they both killed themselves and they were about the same age and they both have ties to Massachusetts and Robert Lowell, because it is only the circumstances of their lives that are similar. Their poetry is NOTHING alike, and comparing them is like comparing Billie Holiday to Sandra Dee. Entirely. Different. Categories.

by Lady Lazarusreply 3310/08/2011

Sylvia Plath will be relevant one hundred years from now, she's that good. Hughes will be a footnote to her Bio. I especially like her dark humor and her depth and honesty.

The anti-Semite be damned!

by Lady Lazarusreply 3410/08/2011

I've read several biographies of Plath; my impression is that she was an incredibly difficult, extremely tiresome person.

But some of the poems--"Tulips" and "In Plaster"--are of the highest order.

by Lady Lazarusreply 3510/08/2011

Only women can truly appreciate Plath.

I love her.

by Lady Lazarusreply 3610/08/2011

I liked the Bell Jar. Other than that, none of these 'great American poets' really rank as important except in the minds of incestuous academia.

by Lady Lazarusreply 3710/08/2011

"I've read several biographies of Plath; my impression is that she was an incredibly difficult, extremely tiresome person."

Yes, she was. I always wondered why Ted Hughes married her. Supposedly he was a chick magnet, and could have had just about any woman he wanted. Why did he marry the rather plain, unpleasant Plath? Was it her poetry he fell in love with, not her?

by Lady Lazarusreply 3810/08/2011

R33 has the best answer.

Although they were both disturbed drama queens and emotional hot messes - that is their only real similarity.

R26, if you have only read The Bell Jar, then you have not "read" Sylvia Plath. Go now and read her Ariel poems.

by Lady Lazarusreply 3910/08/2011

I don't know. I think that much of Ariel is ingenious, but Sexton wrote some wonderful and enduring poems ("The Starry Night," "The Truth the Dead Know," "Her Kind"). These may not be as great as Plath's latest work, but to call Sexton a bad poet is absurd. I don't get Hughes at all.

Sexton and Plath were both in George Starbuck's poetry class.

by Lady Lazarusreply 4110/08/2011

I must be one of the odd few that finds poetry unbelievably dull.

by Lady Lazarusreply 4501/15/2013

There is hope.

There is hope everywhere.

Today God gives milk

and I have the pail.

-- Anne Sexton

by Lady Lazarusreply 5201/15/2013

Did it help that they were both bipolar nuts?

by Lady Lazarusreply 5301/15/2013

"The Bell Jar" is a great read. Although Plath's autobiographical poems have become a tad cliche (through no fault of her own), they still resonate with contemporary readers. Sexton - not so much.

by Lady Lazarusreply 5401/15/2013

Sexton said of Plath's suicide, "That was my death!" Methinks she resented Plath for that. Even in death, Plath overshadowed her.

by Lady Lazarusreply 5501/15/2013

Team Sexton here.

THE FURY OF COCKS. There they are drooping over the breakfast plates, angel-like, folding in their sad wing, animal sad, and only the night before there they were playing the banjo. Once more the day's light comes with its immense sun, its mother trucks, its engines of amputation. Whereas last night the cock knew its way home, as stiff as a hammer, battering in with all its awful power. That theater. Today it is tender, a small bird, as soft as a baby's hand. She is the house. He is the steeple. When they fuck they are God. When they break away they are God. When they snore they are God. In the morning they butter the toast. They don't say much. They are still God. All the cocks of the world are God, blooming, blooming, blooming into the sweet blood of woman.

by Lady Lazarusreply 5801/15/2013

More optimistic: Sylvia Plath or Joan Didion?

by Lady Lazarusreply 5901/15/2013

I like Plath.

Hearing recordings of Plath read her own works, with her cold, flinty voice should make anyone with an equivocal opinion of her come down soundly in one camp or another.

Scroll down a bit at link for a BBC recording of 1962, Plath reading "Daddy":

by Lady Lazarusreply 6101/15/2013

R61, what's with the faux British accent? She was American, and in the 7 years she was married to Hughes, they moved back and froth between the US and UK.

by Lady Lazarusreply 6301/15/2013

R63 I think it was the same affection adopted by Goopy and Madonna.

by Lady Lazarusreply 6401/15/2013

I thought Gwennie was awful.

by Lady Lazarusreply 6601/15/2013

[quote]Personally i liked her a lot in 'Sylvia'. What do you think?

It didn't even play in my town -- I don't know many who've seen it.

by Lady Lazarusreply 6701/15/2013

Evening bump

by Lady Lazarusreply 6901/15/2013

The Bell Jar was one of the first confessionals of depression and suicide. Her suicide made her even more famous.

I don't think she was that great of a writer - but then, I wasn't of the time when she became popular.

by Lady Lazarusreply 7001/15/2013

In my day, junior high girls read "Go Ask Alice" and then graduated to "The Bell Jar" in high school.

by Lady Lazarusreply 7101/15/2013

R43 - R51 and on... that was beautiful.

by Lady Lazarusreply 7201/15/2013

Someone wrote this about her being a narcissistic mother. Sound familiar?

by Lady Lazarusreply 7301/16/2013

Ted Hughes didn't have Sylvia's creativity, originality and daring. He was the same old leather elbow patches. If he hadn't been her husband, he wouldn't be read nearly so much these days.

by Lady Lazarusreply 7401/16/2013

Both are dreadful.

Woody Allen was right about Plath: if only she had put her poetry in the oven rather than her head. Haha.

Feminists adore both since each is a victim. Of course the irony here is that feminists are supposed to resent victimization--but like the gay community, there is a tendency for the feminist critics to worship at the altar of the victim since a political ideology is served by the death.

Do not waste time on either. They count for little in post-modern poetry.

The great, great post-modern poet is Elizabeth Bishop. Magnificent, and ignored since she does not conform to the lurid agenda of those who like the third rate tripe of Plath and Sexton.

by Lady Lazarusreply 7501/16/2013

oh ranger.

by Lady Lazarusreply 7601/16/2013

Doris Lessing is more my speed.

by Lady Lazarusreply 7701/16/2013

“I wonder why I don't go to bed and go to sleep. But then it would be tomorrow, so I decide that no matter how tired, no matter how incoherent I am, I can skip on hour more of sleep and live.”

― Sylvia Plath

by Lady Lazarusreply 7801/16/2013

For r75:


I am in need of music that would flow

Over my fretful, feeling finger-tips,

Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,

With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.

Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,

Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,

A song to fall like water on my head,

And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!

There is a magic made by melody:

A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool

Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep

To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,

And floats forever in a moon-green pool,

Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.

Elizabeth Bishop

by Lady Lazarusreply 7901/16/2013

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

― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

by Lady Lazarusreply 8001/16/2013

Of the post-War generation, I'd say Bishop, Brooks, and Rich were the best American women writing (Marianne Moore is also amazing, but slightly earlier, especially her best work). Both Sexton and Plath wrote some wonderful poems, but there is much that is precious overall in Plath and much that is too tossed-off in Sexton.

No one has topped Bishop's "One Art."

by Lady Lazarusreply 8101/16/2013

I don't think I would take seriously the opinions of anyone who calls himself "ranger."

by Lady Lazarusreply 8201/16/2013

good policy

by Lady Lazarusreply 8301/17/2013

Ted Hughes was a brilliant poet. I admire him.

by Lady Lazarusreply 8401/17/2013

I don't.

by Lady Lazarusreply 8501/17/2013

I'll never forgive her for her A in Physics at Smith. Who the hell did she think she was?

by Lady Lazarusreply 8601/17/2013

What the hell do you know r85 - you're basing your judgement on Hughes over some Plath biography you've read. Where you there at Court Green? Do you know anything about Hughes and his his dedication to his work - his intellectual and emotional life? You know nothing.

by Lady Lazarusreply 8701/17/2013

R87 take your fingers and put them in your anal hole.

You seem insufferable when you say 'You know nothing'

by Lady Lazarusreply 8801/17/2013

r88 - well you don't. You base a judgement on two people over events that may or may not have happened in their shared history - second hand accounts. If my defending Hughes as an artist is 'insufferable' to you, that's not my problem is it?

by Lady Lazarusreply 8901/17/2013

R89 I don't like his poetry. It bores me to death, so I KNOW.

Did you do what i told you to do by the way? Your fingers belong there.

by Lady Lazarusreply 9001/17/2013

For fuck's sake you guys are arguing over poets now? How about they all suck? Pretentious, faux agonizing bullshit.

by Lady Lazarusreply 9101/17/2013

Fuck off r91 - if you had your way, there would be no poetry. I hate this cynical world where only satire is now considered to be true art. Fuck you all!

by Lady Lazarusreply 9201/17/2013

In Plaster is a high school student's gimmick. It is not real poetry.

by Lady Lazarusreply 9301/17/2013

[quote]Woody Allen was right about Plath: if only she had put her poetry in the oven rather than her head. Haha.

[quote]Feminists adore both since each is a victim. Of course the irony here is that feminists are supposed to resent victimization--but like the gay community, there is a tendency for the feminist critics to worship at the altar of the victim since a political ideology is served by the death.

All that might make sense if this were still 1976.

Literary criticism and literary tastes have moved on. Plath is no longer an icon for the teen set any more than Keats and Shelley were in the 19th century. She's now considered a major American poet of the mid-20th century (though not on the scale of someone like Elizabeth Bishop or Marianne Moore), but not for the autobiographical suicide stuff but for poems like "Elm" and "Blackberrying." Sexton is considered distinctly minor.

Some of you think the world of literary criticism has frozen since you were in high school or college. Time marches on.

by Lady Lazarusreply 9401/17/2013

Piss off yourself. You sound ridiculous. If I had my way? Do you think if I did I would truly waste my time worrying about poets. There's a lot more important things I would do I were world dictator.

by Lady Lazarusreply 9501/17/2013

r95 is feeling a bit tired and emotional and raw right now, and she would just like a moment or two to herself.

by Lady Lazarusreply 9601/17/2013

People that consider Plath an iconic poet couldn't name one poem of hers aside from Daddy.

by Lady Lazarusreply 9701/17/2013

Not particularly R96 but someone takes Plath and Hughes way too seriously. I mean, criticism of poetry shouldn't warrant a childish response like that.

by Lady Lazarusreply 9801/17/2013

Hughes bears some responsibility for her dark depression.

by Lady Lazarusreply 9901/17/2013

I've only seen the movie and only because Daniel Craig was in it. Why did he dump her? Was he just a womanizer or was she just too difficult and needy to live with for long. She sounds like a pain in the ass but, yes, he seemed like he as an asshole too.

by Lady Lazarusreply 10001/17/2013


by Lady Lazarusreply 10101/17/2013

I remember reading that just before her suicide, she found out Hughes entertained one of his new girls on their (Plath and Hughes) honeymoon bed.

by Lady Lazarusreply 10201/17/2013

I was sad when I heard her son committed suicide,too.

by Lady Lazarusreply 10301/17/2013

Women can't write poetry, the only female poet of any merit was Edna St. Vincent Millay. Besides that any poetry written after 1940 was worthless

by Lady Lazarusreply 10401/17/2013

Her newly published, unexpurgated journals support a little-known theory that PMS drove her to suicide. Second of two parts.

by Lady Lazarusreply 10501/18/2013

That was fascinating, r105. But keep in mind they are not "newly" published, having been out for over 10 years!

by Lady Lazarusreply 10601/18/2013

Florence King has noted that Americans like their notable women to be sick or crazy or weak.

by Lady Lazarusreply 10701/18/2013

Florence King is overrated.

by Lady Lazarusreply 10801/18/2013

I was double-major in college and one of those major was in English literature. I've read many poems and prose and the works of Sylvia Plath did not inspire me in any way. She is a poet for depressed.

She's more famous for her death than her poetry, which I find to be mediocre.

by Lady Lazarusreply 10901/18/2013

Your academic bona fides mean nothing unless you tell us what university you went to, r109.

by Lady Lazarusreply 11001/18/2013

[quote]Why did he dump her? Was he just a womanizer or was she just too difficult and needy to live with for long. She sounds like a pain in the ass but, yes, he seemed like he as an asshole too.

They had sort of a "George and Martha" thing going--they liked to fight and found it erotic. They admired each other's writing tremendously, but they both were hugely ambitious. He was an inveterate womanizer: handsome and well-built and brilliant and and from a working class background, he needed a lot of reassurance he was desirable and special, and much of that came from fucking women. She did not approve of his philandering and had genuine mental illness and so was incredibly needy. This drove them apart. They never would have remained together anyway given his wandering eye, but given the horrible conditions she was under the winter she committed suicide (she was caring for two small children, and it was the worst winter in decades in London) she just fell apart.

He was basically made to pay for his cheating for the rest of his life: not only did an enormous number of Plath's fans consider him her betrayer, but his second wife, Assia Weevil, was determined to do Plath one better and killed herself AND their newborn child. He became super-controlling about Plath's writing as did his sour and overprotective sister Olwyn, who had somehow become the literary executor of Plath's estate. Their obsession with controlling her image only infuriated Plath scholars and fans who found them sinister and forbidding: his admission that he burned Plath's final journals because he found them so disturbing when he was trying to make a fresh start with his children only made him seem more sinister.

Just before he died, he published his "Birthday" poems which revealed he had obsessed about her for the rest of his life and deeply suffered over his guilt at her death. And of course their son committed suicide just a few years ago in Alaska. Frieda, their daughter, lives in Perth, Australia now and is as bitter about people who have been fans of her mother's writings as her father and aunt were during their lifetimes. The whole family has had nothing but misery.

by Lady Lazarusreply 11101/18/2013

r110 it's an opinion. I'm not having an academic contest as I'm no academic. I'm a lawyer now.

If you like Plath, great. I did not find her poetry inspiring or illuminating.

by Lady Lazarusreply 11201/18/2013

Where did you get your degree?

by Lady Lazarusreply 11301/18/2013

Who the hell are you that you should demand private information? I'm not interested in your academic background.

by Lady Lazarusreply 11401/18/2013

r110/r113 will not be IGNORED, r114! You must accede to her demands NOW!


Or else risk being blasted by her scorn, bred by her academic superiority!

by Lady Lazarusreply 11501/18/2013

Poor Sylvia -- more biography than poetry. But in order to be turned into an academic industry, a la Emily Dickinson, the biography must come first.

by Lady Lazarusreply 11601/19/2013

ha ha ha

by Lady Lazarusreply 11711/06/2013

There once was a man from Nantucket...

by Lady Lazarusreply 11811/06/2013

Can we all agree that Jorie Graham is insufferable?

by Lady Lazarusreply 11911/06/2013

I think the real tragedy here is that people have forgotten, or have not read, Plath's first two books of poetry including her juvenalia which is actually quite good.

Mushrooms? Point Shirley?

by Lady Lazarusreply 12011/06/2013 a terrible fish.

by Lady Lazarusreply 12111/06/2013

[all posts by tedious, racist idiot removed.]

by Lady Lazarusreply 12211/06/2013

[quote]Florence King has noted that Americans like their notable women to be sick or crazy or weak.


Marilyn Monroe, Janis Joplin, Plath, and Ruffian.

by Lady Lazarusreply 12311/06/2013

I much prefer Sexton, but Plath is the better poet. Let's not get silly.

I love the messy sexy dirty and crude Sexton, who worked so hard to be good, and was occasionally great. Turgid, well I guess. Who uses that word?

There is nothing more deadly dull than the discussion of suicide poets, except for the discussion of currently famous chefs.

Plath may have been brilliant, but her voice, her work, and her personal history are not in any way sexy r62. She was a bit of a drudge, from cradle to early grave. Her lovely education, her amusing personal treachery, anger and experimentation were not as staggering as her facility to put them to words. The grand romance with Hughes was nothing but a sweep of hair and shared pretensions. Her poems are always new songs for the same old depression. I truly believe, to use medical terms - that she was nuts and a poor cook. Her poetry reads beautifully and sometimes with wonderful discovery, as she intended. She deserves the attention, but not the myth. She wanted both. She expected to be saved, so she could write about it...

Sexton fought against her death, worked hard to educate herself, did not mythologize her domestic life(much), and worked hard to elevate her references and connections with only the goal to be a good poet, get drunk or laid. Pure.

Theodore Roethke is my favourite 20th century poet.

by Lady Lazarusreply 12411/07/2013

Sexton had better scotch.

by Lady Lazarusreply 12511/07/2013

Anne Sexton is glamorous and hotter. Sylvia is the better poet - Sexton is too sloppy or crude for me even though it is good in a way.

At this point who they were and their biography is part of the package. Especially as confessional poets. So poets like Bishop are kind of boring and forgettable to me in comparison.

Also, Plath and Sexton are both very original to me, if stylistically very different. Plath's Ariel just stunned me as a teen and I read it multiple times. The Bell Jar is a good novel and different to most novels too. I didn't like The Colossus, her early poetry collection though because they were formal and boring - not original and edgy like the Ariel poems.

by Lady Lazarusreply 12611/07/2013

Anne Sexton is far more interesting. Better poet.

by Lady Lazarusreply 12711/07/2013

Plath - most over-rated poet EVER. Her poems were garbage that could have been done by an average ninth grader with manic-depression.

by Lady Lazarusreply 12811/18/2013

I don't really have an opinion, but "Blackberrying" Plath felt like a little slap in the face when I first read it. A "so this is what poetry is" kind of moment. I love it.

by Lady Lazarusreply 12911/18/2013

In 2009, 46 years after his mother's own suicide, Sylvia Plath's son Nicholas Hughes hanged himself. He was 47.

by Lady Lazarusreply 13012/03/2013

No joke,

We had to design t-shirts in school. We didn't actually have to create them, just the design part. This was the 90s so I had that snarky 90s sense of humor. Anyway, one of my designs was;

(image of 1950s woman reaching into oven to achieve a pie)

"Proud Graduate Of The Sylvia Plath School Of Baking"

by Lady Lazarusreply 13112/03/2013
Need more help? Click Here.

Follow theDL catch up on what you missed

recent threads by topic delivered to your email

follow popular threads on twitter

follow us on facebook

Become a contributor - post when you want with no ads!