Welcome to the Sylvia Plath Forum which began January 1998 following the surprise publication of Ted Hughes' Birthday Letters. The forum is moderated and maintained by Elaine Connell.
Poem Analysis

  • The Bee Meeting
  • Cut
  • Mirror
  • The Moon and the Yew Tree
  • Mystic
  • The Thin People
  • Tulips
  • Poems inspired by Sylvia

    Contributions: November-December 1999

    In regards to Plath being viewed as an enigma-- irrelevant though this point may be, I can't help but wonder if Plath herself might have been pleased by this (mis)perception. Her journals continually give me the impression of an exceptional young woman who was fighting a battle unique to those of her type: Namely, the struggle to attain approval (i.e., to achieve "normalcy," transparency, to *communicate* something to others) vs. the struggle to mystify (i.e., to to dazzle with opacity, to render herself somewhat intranslatable-- an impulse at odds, by the way, with her intense need for a soulmate, an "other.")

    The above speculation is plagued with the usual problems: It fails to extricate the woman's story from the story of her work.Frankly, I've always found it tough to separate the two, for the obvious reason that Plath's ouevre (even those "false" poems in "Colossus") is colored with highly personalized suicidal language and imagery. It is not a record of universal suicidal experience, but her *own* record.It is a record that begs to be examined *against* the biographical facts as we know them. Of course one could discuss her poetry and her contribution to art in terms of sheer prosody, craftmanship, and Plath's hierarchical spot in the canon, but one would have to be a pretty deft (and purposefully myopic) critic, don't you think?

    Until such a critic can find himself or herself a publisher, I'm afraid we're all going to have to endure banal and sweeping statements about the "enigma" of Plath. Certainly we could hear worse.

    Jan Watson Collins
    New York City, USA
    Thursday, December 30, 1999

    In response to S L Pippin, St Louis, USA : I couldn't agree more that we are 'looking in the wrong place', but argue that there is currently nowhere else for scholars to look. It is to be hoped that if and when the allegedly destroyed missing volumes (sic) of SP's journals are made public, we'll all have something which will, on close reading, perhaps provide the key to the 'enigma' that is being discussed. To simplify the current state of play: we (scholars particularly) may think we've got to the heart of the matter, but it is the soul that we need access to in order to truly understand Sylvia's psychological make-up.

    Paul Grainger
    Lincoln, UK
    Wednesday, December 29, 1999

    I am trying to put together a essay about Sylvia returning to the domestic living. When she lived on the edge of the abyss. What actually pushed her into this place. Several times in her poetry she has surfaced to explain what she felt and saw. When the mother archetype appeared within she fought against but seemed to lose the battle. Her poetry has proved to every woman and man that giving birth does transform the woman into something less superior. The woman's mind becomes soggy and empty. Sylvia had a great mind that crumbled into fragments because of the domesticated enviornment that she lived in. Here was a great mind that was put to chopping vegtables and cleaning floors. This is why Sylvia Plath might of put an end to this situation. Even though a love for her children was very present it wasn't enough to keep her alive.

    Vancouver, Canada
    Wednesday, December 29, 1999

    I wish I had something penetrating to say about Plath's poetry, but I'll just dip my toe into the "Who Should Play Our Sivvy" debate. I know this is a long shot, but just check out Kate Winslet in "Heavenly Creatures" for an interesting casting suggestion!

    Boston, USA
    Wednesday, December 29, 1999

    In response to Roz's queries: the poem I think is most akin to The Bell Jar is "The Stones", the multipart poem about her breakdown and recovery. She wrote it before she wrote The Bell Jar, and in some ways it is a dress rehearsal for it, poetically.

    The moon is the ghostly "other" in Plath's language, cold, pitiless, everpresent. In Chapters in a Mythology by Judith Kroll, the symbology of the moon is explored thoroughly.

    My opinion of Plath's breakdown is that both her own personality and events outside it worked against her. The more I learn, the more I think Plath knew what was happening, and fought against it, but anyone who reads her letters can see that, as much help as she was getting, it wasn't enough. At the risk of sounding sentimental, her heart was broken, and that made everything more difficult. It is hard to place the "fault" for her breakdown anywhere - for a long time, it was put squarely on Ted Hughes, but I think this attitude is no longer prevalent.

    There is a good discussion group at on Sylvia Plath; I believe many Forum regulars subscribe to it.

    Lena Friesen
    Toronto, Canada
    Tuesday, December 28, 1999

    It seems that in spite of the past 30 plus years one struggle remains:the need to convince the academic establishment and/or men that the majority of the population, women, are not a minority! This might be a useful basis for your presentation Michael. I find it quite staggering that a well-educated, white, middle class and in many ways relatively privileged woman, who played the academic game far better than most men should still be classified as being part of a "minority". It seems to me that Plath can only be considered a "minority" writer if one believes that the only criteria by which we can judge literature/ human experience is that of male WASP's, even the WASPESSES are somehow marginal.That may be a way into "The Bell Jar" for you, read it looking for all the contrasts between the experiences and expectations of the male and female characters in 1950's America.

    Elaine Connell
    Hebden Bridge, England
    Tuesday, December 28, 1999

    Hi, I'm writing a presentation on minority writers for my AP Literature class, and my presentation is about Sylvia, as a woman writer. The presentation is centered around "The Bell Jar", and if anyone has any good ideas of topics I should bring up, having to do with her struggles and writing style as a minority writer, then please email me in the next week. This is due once vacation ends. Any help would be appreciated, thanks a lot.

    Michael Joyce
    East Sandwich, MA, USA
    Tuesday, December 28, 1999

    I am currently doing a study of Sylvia Plath and her unique writing style. I am mainly looking into 'The Bell Jar', but I am also comparing the novel to her poetry. I am looking for examples of imagery of the moon and what this symbpolises. I would also like to know which poem is the closest related to 'The Bell Jar'.

    I am also interested in people's opinions of Plath's break down. Do you think that it was Plath's fault for her breakdown? Was it because she was a perfectionist and deliberately shut people out, or was it due to the disheartening events in her life (i.e. the death of her father and breakdown of her marriage)?

    If anyone knows the addresses for newsgroups that discuss 'The Bell Jar' or Sylvia Plath, please let me know.

    Livingston, Scotland
    Tuesday, December 28, 1999

    In response to Jan Watson Collins, one interesting poem for Sylvia is Erica Jong's "In Sylvia Plath Country," which appears in BECOMING lIGHT HarperCollins, 1991). This would be a good occasion for other forum contributors to mention other poems.

    Jack Folsom
    Sharon, Vermont, USA
    Monday, December 27, 1999

    I never thought I'd be placed in the position of grubbing for Plath-related material, but a question has come up which I thought might be best pitched towards you folks. I work for a well-known Language Arts textbook company and am occasionally asked to dredge up literary selections. As of today, I've been asked to find poetry relating to Plath's death-- poems which were written by neither Plath herself nor by Ted Hughes, but by objective "third parties" who happen to be poets. Anne Sexton's "Sylvia's Death" is an obvious example, and I know I've encountered other, more recent homages-- yet I seem to be drawing a blank here.Can anyone think of something else?

    Jan Watson Collins
    New York City, USA
    Monday, December 20, 1999

    "Poetry is such a tyranical discipline. You have to go SO far, SO fast, in such a small space that you have to just BURN away all the peripherals". S.Plath (bbc radio interview, 1961).

    Question is.......was she right? Does that approach lead to the formation of 'art' or to the formation of uncontrollable intensities? Certainly it leads to poetic power, but power also needs perspective to maintain beauty of form. Did she ultimately lose that perspective?

    Any thoughts?

    Stuart Mayes
    Greenhithe, England

    Thursday, December 16, 1999

    I'm currenly finishing up a paper on modern poets, and the role of confession-style catharsis within their poems, and those poets' ultimate acts of self destruction. (Sound like Sylvia?)

    Anyways, i'm trying to narrow it down to one poem by Slvia that is exemplary of her confessional/cathartic style of writing. I'm just very's due wednesday, and i can't find a poem by Slivia that really shows that she was writing in order to deal with her pain.

    So....can anyone suggest one poem that is really the summation of all that her writing stood for and dealt with?

    Thanks for any help!

    Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA
    Tuesday, December 14, 1999

    Perhaps my distaste at the use of the word enigma in regard to Plath is that it is used as a sales label. It is important to realize that Plath's biographers, many of them at least, were motivated more by marketability than "scholarly" interest. Whether or not we blame the "reading public" for this is another matter, but it is certainly a fact that the gossip mongers reap the financial rewards so we can draw our own conclusions for what the public wants. Regardless, I balk at perpetuating this negation of what we do have, which is Plath's own poetry, not to mention her private journals and letters. On the contrary, despite what the biographers would have us believe, Plath is overexposed compared to most of her contemporaries, and she is overexposed for the sake of titillation.

    It is sad to see a poet whose evolution came by the necessity of removing the "enigma" of her false voice and replacing it with the voice of the (as Hughes described it) "true self," incessantly tagged a mystery. Colossus was certainly the voice of that enigma, as Ariel is the voice of the true self. It is arguable that the exposure of this self, the "big striptease," is in every way bound up with the suicide, but that cannot be known with certain knowledge on any level, whereas the serious pursuit of what we have and continue to discover can only clear the path for understanding the "enigma" If Plath is, and as it was suggested must be, seen as an enigma, the result is devastating to the voicing of her true self, and if we find that the enigma of her life is more relevant than the actualities of her work, we are certainly looking in the wrong place.

    S.L. Pippin
    St. Louis, USA
    December 13, 1999

    In response to Erica, Chicago, USA: see p 148 of the UK Faber & Faber edition of 'Johnny Panic ...' in response to Caroline, Canada: from the time of death of Sylvia Plath to the demise of Ted Hughes, most comment on the relationship between the two has tended to synthesize their personalities rather than treat them as individuals. Moreover, biographers (with the exception of Anne Stevenson) have written about them on the basis of hearsay coupled with a distillation of both Plath's and Hughes's published works. Therefore, the use of the word 'enigma' is both appropriate and unavoidable. And its continued use is inevitable so long as there is insufficient scholarship to enable us, the reading public, to treat either of them otherwise.

    Paul Grainger
    Lincoln, UK
    Monday, December 13, 1999

    Although Plath did not live long enough to produce many volumes of work, she is a major poet. It is hard to quantify what constitutes a "major" poet, but I know one thing that does not matter is how long the poet in question lived. Or how she, in this case, died. Plath has become something of an icon of the "suffering female poet", easily wheeled out as an object lesson, a cliche, a boogeywoman of poetry. And all of these figures get in the way of seeing Plath for what she was - a young, married, expatriate poet with children. It is true that she learned from Ted Hughes, but this discounts her other sources of knowledge - Smith, Cambridge, and her own independent thinking and reading. Hughes was wont to see himself and Plath as inseparable mentally, whereas Plath said they were close, but very different poetically. Just as she learned from him, at first, it is plain to see that he learned from her and even used her own language in Birthday Letters (some see this as his usurping her language, but I think it's more "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery", but deeper).

    Plath is a major poet the way Hopkins or Catullus or Keats or Sappho are major poets. I don't know if any of these writers died thinking they had accomplished something "major" - Keats, in his lifetime, was published the most, but I don't think he was sure of what he had done. Plath's famous line "I am a writer...I am a genius of a writer; I have it in me. I am writing the best poems of my life..." is a proud and accurate one. And it was written *before* she wrote "Ariel", "Fever 103", "Cut", "Purdah" and "Lady Lazarus". In any case, none of the above poets have large bodies of work (in Sappho's case it's a few complete poems and fragments of others), but their voices are distinct, unmistakable, like Ted Hughes, or Sylvia Plath.

    Lena Friesen
    Toronto, Canada
    Friday, December 10, 1999

    Hi, I was just wondering if anyone knows where the following Sylvia Plath quotation comes from: 'There is a price for the eyeing of my scars'

    I've got no idea if its from a book or a was just quoted in another book I read. It would really really mean a lot to me if anyone could tell me. Thanks a lot, Rosie

    London, UK
    Friday, December 10, 1999

    I think that it is a shame to see this forum mired down in the good Hughes/bad Hughes debate. Not only does it lose the sense of an already difficult poet, but it tends to mystify the person rather than seek clarity in the work. Plath is not an "enigma" beyond the fact that all of the dead are enigmatic. She was, after all, a concrete product of a specific time and a specific set of circumstances. What sets her apart is the work. It is an unfortunate truth that her writing leads to a kind of misplaced identification, particularly among young people, and certainly the universality of her feelings contributes to this tendency. It is important to remember that when we become too mired down in her personal experience, we tend to subjectify that experience as having some likeness to our own. Thus is the meaning of her poetry lost.

    There are some wonderful minds at work here, people who have much more potential than dawdling about in the realm of amateur psychology allows them to realize. I am not negating the relevance of Alvarez nor of any Plath memoirist to the discussion, but really, there is so much that is solidly and profoundly interesting in Plath's own writing that it becomes frustrating to see it chronically overlooked in favor of gossip. Do go back to your discussions of the poetry. I have learned so much from many of you.

    S.L. Pippin
    St. Louis, USA
    Friday, December 10, 1999

    I believe it is all too easy to misunderstand the 'enigma' that is Sylvia Plath. I believe it is too easy to take her suicide (and suicide note?) and build the picture and the woman around that. I believe it is necessary to read Ariel (I believe that's the suicide note you are referencing, or is the the note tape to the railing of her stairways that reads "Call Dr. Horder?") the way Sylvia Plath ordered the poems, beginning with "Love" and ending with "Spring." During her commentary of Letters Home, even the denying Aurelia Plath can see the absolute beauty and strength in these poems, "...magnificently sturctured poems, renouncing the subservient female role, yet holding to the triumphant note of maternal creativity..." And the quote you use from the greatness that is A. Alvarez is most probably a very early opinion of Plath & Hughes' & their relationship for surely, if you've read in full the introduction to The Savage God you'll remember that Alvarez, on meeeting Plath after some time, hardly recognised the her as being the woman that was married to Hughes, no longer quiet and in Hughes shadow, etc. She had come into her own, I think he said & she was the only woman poet he'd taken seriously since the times of Emily Dickinson.

    I agree that the short story "Snow Blitz" is a brilliant highlight of the Johnny Panic collection. It is in print in England and you can buy it from the Books link at the top of the screen, or from any used book internet search.

    Peter Steinberg
    Springfield, VA, USA
    Wednesday, December 8, 1999

    What is all this I am reading on "the redemption of Ted"??? Yes he was a great poet, I don't think that's agrueable, but I just don't underdstand how you are not only able to dignify his actions, but place him on a pedestule for how much pain the situation caused him! And how are you able to contradict yourself in such a way? You say that we tend to get caught up in the "enigma" that is Plath, well by reading your post I get the strong sense that you are getting too caught up in the enigma that is Ted; because even if he was a great poet, and her death caused him grief, in no way does that pain redeem a galavanting man form his wrongs. If he knew he had no sense of committment, then he should not have gotton involved in the first place. And I do not think that Plath was too smart for him (that I agree with you on-otherwise she would have realized that he was not the best choice and moved on). Relationships have such a strong hold however, and anyone who has ever exprerianced the situation that Plath was in with her husband can testify to this.

    Wednesday, December 8, 1999

    Estimable Tanya of Bristol, England;

    I'm curious as to the response to your question, "What are they to you, Plath and Hughes?" --it's been a month, what do the polls say?

    Kenneth Jones
    San Francisco, USA
    Wednesday, December 8, 1999

    Susan Rager writes (on 29th Nov) of Ted Hughes being 'shiftless', 'unworthy' and that Plath was 'too bright' for him. This seems an astonishing series of comments on THE poetic genius of out time. I am sure that last thing on His mind was what a 'handy solution' her death was for him, rather it ultimately led to his darkest visions of life and the desperate nature of human existence.

    We should all remember the words of A Alvarez, that "Hughes was the one in-touch with his dream world, Sylvia the obedient pupil. And like a good pupil, she too 'went down' into her subconscious and unfortunatley, what she discovered was nightmare".

    I believe it is too easy to get wrapped up with the 'enigma' that is Sylvia Plath, all too easily seen in those who die at their own hand before realizing the promise of their early work. She was indeed an accomplished poet, yet not the great voice she 'could' have become. She could have been a major poet, but a suicude note is not a major work, and that is what we were ultimately left with.

    We should also remember that the truth of relationships is beyond literature, a reason maybe that Hughes refrained from entering the debate until he did, and then doing so in the only way he could, through poetry. asked about 'Ocean 12W'......I hope you find the following usefull:

    'Ocean 12-12W' can be found in 'Johnny Panic & the Bible of Dreams' published by faber & faber 1976. I do not know of any editions currently in print, but you should be able to get hold of this second hand. The book is a collection of Plath's prose writings, the most interesting piece (in my opinion) being 'snow storm' , a short piece of prose written in early 1963 and dealing with her last 'winter of discontent' in a snow-gripped London.

    Alternatively, 'Ocean 12-12W' was originally published in the Listener magazine in 1962. Hope this helps.

    Stuart Mayes
    Greenhithe, England
    Tuesday, December 7, 1999

    Hey! Sylvia Plath is a very good writer and she writes excellent poems

    Charleston, WV, USA
    Tuesday, December 7, 1999

    I'm doing an essay on "Lady Lazarus" and I think I've been missing the boat on what it's all about. Who are the "peanut-crunching" crowds, and when she talks about the strip tease and "the charge for a word or a touch" who is she reffering to? I am starting to understand the comparison to her as a Jew and her father as the Nazi. Was she unhappy with her relationship with her father before his death. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

    Morris, USA
    Tuesday, December 7, 1999

    I am doing a research paper on Plath for my AP English class. I am trying to see if I can do something with imagery in her poems. Of course, I need three arguments, and I would like to use three poems individually as each argument. I was wondering if anyone had a good idea as to which poems I should concentrate on. Thanks for your help. Also, anyone with any great idea for another paper, that would be fine too!

    Maine, USA
    Friday, December 3, 1999

    Hi guys! i need to find a copy of "sunday at the mintons" the short story Sylvia Plath wrote for Mademoiselle magazine. If you know where there is a copy or if you could email me a copy it would make me a happy girl again. Thanks a million

    Chicago, USA
    Friday, December 3, 1999

    I have recently discovered Sylvia Plath and am intrigued with her life. I am curious to know if anyone can reccommend any biographies about her. I would also appreciate any information anyone wants to send. I have found that I can understand Sylvia better than I can understand most poets and I am really very curious if perhaps we have had similar experiences and/or thoughts about life. Any information is appreciated. Thank you,

    Starkville, USA
    Friday, December 3, 1999

    I am writing a paper on the analysis of the poem "Mirror" by Silvia Plath. I have summited a paragraph on your Mirror analysis/discussion web page. Could you please help me in understanding the true meaning of the poem? Thanks. Also, if any one else has any insight on this poem and would like to share it with me please feel free to e-mail me. Thanks.

    Sarah Walls
    Bristol, USA
    Wednesday, December 1, 1999

    Can anyone provide any details about the Radio Three broadcast of "Three Women", time etc? I am in Canada but will be in Wales over Christmas and through New Years.

    Edmonton, Canada
    Wednesday, December 1, 1999

    This is to inform everyone that Anna Ravano, who received some help from some of us for her translation of Hughes's Birthday Letters into Italian, has completed that huge task. LETTERE DI COMPLEANNO has now been published by Arnoldo Montadori Editore, Milano in a splendid parallel-text line-by-line format. Which makes it just dandy for any English-speaking Italophile to learn some more idiomatic Italian. Thanks, Anna!

    Jack Folsom
    Sharon, Vermont, USA
    Monday, November 29, 1999

    Please help me i'm looking for any critical essays on slyvia plath dealing with madness or important symbols in the bell jar if you know of any critical essays more than 3 pages e-mail me the address or better yet the essays thanks for your time and help

    Tammy Thornhill
    St. Philip, Barbados
    Monday, November 29, 1999

    Hello Plath enthusiasts As many of you are, I am writing a thesis on Plath, and have finally narrowed the choice of topic down to a study of the epic 53 stanza verse play, 'Three Women: A Poem for Three Voices' which has been largely ignored by critics because it was produced by BBC as a radio play, and as such is not an atypical poem. So, my next stage in the process is to find information on this poem to aid my research. Has anyone spotted any sites on the Net which deal particularly with this poem, or does anyone have a list of references they would care to share?

    Or indeed does anyone have any personal opinions as to what they think is Plaths meaning in the poem. I'd be grateful for any input Thanks

    Monday, November 29, 1999

    The assumption that Plath intended to commit suicide is based on the fact that she succeeded. How many of us have wondered if this was not just another attempt to get the attention of this rather shiftless and obviously unworthy English poet (Hughes) to whom she had an unfortunately fatal attraction? Sylvia was too bright for Hughes, but the chemical attraction between them seemed to have provided her with an unpenetrable fog which encased their relationship for most of its duration. If you look at the facts surrounding the death, there were things that went wrong all over the place. The downstairs neighbor passed out from the gas fumes instead of becoming alarmed at them and calling the police. The nanny who was scheduled to be there much earlier arrived much later, too much later. And, of course, the death provided a handy solution for Hughes who had moved on to yet another and presumably would have pursued divorcing Sylvia to formalize the new relationship. No m! essy custody battle or anything else. Just thought I'd throw this out there for anyone who might shed more light on these things....

    Susan Rager
    Coles Point, VA, USA
    Monday, November 29, 1999

    I fell immediately for Sylvia, the moment a new-found propensity for poetry brought me to the Ariel poems. Ever since, my affinity for the women has deepened to almost an obsession. However, as I've inevitably branched from poems to books to criticism to her journals (where you're officially a "peanut-cruncher"), I'm still at a loss for locating an essay of hers entitled "Ocean 12W." If anyone knows how/where to locate this essay, they would place me in their debt with the knowledge. I'm "" and eagerly awaiting any reply. Sincerely,

    Jeffrey S. Rush
    Pearl City, Hawaii, USA
    Saturday, November 27, 1999

    Emma Brooks i have info about your essay please email me!

    Saturday, November 27, 1999

    It's nice to have a forum for Sylvia Plath, like this very one. I am a historian but I have always been a fan of Sylvia since my college days (back in the early eighties). Her poetry shaped my history works and my historical writing. You can visit our Philippine website. Thanks---- for Sivvy...

    Lino L. Dizon
    Concepcion, Philippines
    Saturday, November 27, 1999

    For JO:

    Journals may shed new light on troubled life of poet Sylvia Plath
    By Hillel Italie

    NEW YORK - One of literature's great underground documents is coming to bookstores: the complete journals of Sylvia Plath.

    For decades, readers have obsessed like conspiracy theorists about Plath, the poet and novelist who killed herself in 1963. Biographers continue to analyze everything from her work famously difficult marriage to fellow poet Ted Hughes. Their relationship has lived on in Plath's postumously issued poems and letters and in Hughes' "Birthday Poems," published just months before he died in 1998.

    The exact naure of their relationship and why she committed suicide is still debated: The journals may ofer clues. An edition published in the 1980s is believed to contain only one-third of the collection. The new book will almost certainly add hundreds of previously unpublished pages.

    "The decision has been made to publish them in their entirety, unedited, so the world can judge for themselves," said Joanna Mackle, publishing director for London based Faber and Faber, which in April will issue the book in Britain.

    At the time of her death, Plath had just one bok published under her name. But a decade later, she was a feminist martyr, the mourned and beloved author of the "Ariel" poems and the novel "The Bell Jar."

    Meanwhile, Hughes was cast as the cold, oppressive villain, the man who stifled Plath in life and censored her in death. Plath fans harassed Hughes at readings and hacked his name off Plath's tombstone, which had been inscribed: "Sylvia Plath Hughes."

    Few have seen all the journals, which have been stored for years at Plath's alma mater, Smith College, but the Faber and Faber catalog promises an "intimate portrait" of "vigorous immediacy." The manuscript handed in by the editors at Smith runs at least 1,000 pages, more than double the original publication.

    What ended up as one of the great cottage industries both in publishing and academia began as a romance. Hughes and Plath were in their 20s when they met at Cambridge University in England, in the winter of 1956. She was an American student and writer living abroad; he a young British poet trying to establish a literary magazine.

    They were married within months, but by the end of 1962, they were living apart. Hughes was seeing another woman, and an increasingly unhappy Plath had moved withthe children from their country house to a London flat. Plath killed herself in February 1963.

    Saturday, November 27, 1999

    I have chosen Plath's 'Daddy' as the topic for a research project at university. Could anyone give me an insight into the poem/ recommend any useful publications or biographies which deal specifically with 'Daddy'/ help me in any way at all?

    Warwick, England
    Saturday, November 27, 1999

    I've long passed the essay writing stage, though all through a-level eng. lit and my english degree it was always Sylvia I wrote the big essays on. And I read everything by her I could lay my hands on and was ridiculously excited about Birthday Letters and am generally a fully-qualified peanut-cruncher, though I try to keep the voyeurism reined in.

    Three years on and I discover the journals (American version) in the library, which I've never read before and they are great. And I take a mosey on the Internet and find you lot. I feel back amongst friends. But anyway, my query is - someone mentioned that the full journals would be out in April. Is that April 2000? And is that true?

    And for those struggling with essays, I always found reading out loud and seeing the sound the poems made 'on the tongue' as it were, really useful. Especially with the Ariel poems. The sound of them can help a lot in getting a feel for their tone/ mood.

    Nice to find you all out here in hyper-space!

    Weymouth, England
    Thursday, November 25, 1999

    I must say that everyone's insight on plath/dickinson really assisted me in a documented essay. melissa dobson, bravo. i couldn't have expressed their connection better myself.

    Eunice, USA
    Monday, November 22, 1999

    Felicity - those lines are not by Ted Hughes. Unfortunately, I cannot presently remember who wrote them, though I am almost certain I have them written down somewhere. I'll look it up and let you know.

    Detroit, USA
    Monday, November 22, 1999

    In some recent web browsing I came across a reference to a Plath publication called A Winter Ship published in 1960. I have read almost all Plath biographies and criticism and have never heard reference to this.

    I then did a check on Barnes and Nobles used book section and was struck by how many rare, numbered, and special editions there are that i was not aware of. I eventually found a note on to A Winter Ship which identified it as a poem on a Christmas card. This poem is in the Collected, but it makes me wonder when we will see a Complete Poems of Sylvia Plath and not just Collected. Anyway, in reference to Leigha's question, although I do not know of this specific edition of The Bell Jar, I have no doubt that it likely exists.

    Edmonton, Canada
    Monday, November 22, 1999

    I am a Junior at Ephrata High School in Ephrata, WA near Seattle, I am required to write a paper on a signiicant American Author and I have choose Sylvia Plath, if anyone can offer and advice or info i must show why and with examples how she was a great American Author plus analyze her bio, The Bell Jar which i have just recently finshed and thought was a great book. Thanks,

    Ephrata, USA
    Monday, November 22, 1999

    Anyone know anything about "Nick and the Candlestick'? The poem makes about as much sense as a cat shaving its own tounge. i.e. it doesn't make any sense. Please help. Thank you.

    Ted Collins
    Homeostasis, Colorado, USA
    Monday, November 22, 1999

    I was wondering if anyone had seen a copy of the bell jar with a special kind of jacket on it. I have heard that there were one hundred copies of it with a hand painted rose on it. . . Is this true or just an urban legend? Also I'd just like to discuss Plath with a group of people. Drop me a line, and maybe we'll chat. Leigha

    Chicago IL/ Eau Claire WI, USA
    Sunday, November 21, 1999

    hi...I am a senior at college doing an oral on Plath's poem THE EDGE...unfortunately I find it impossible to analyze it...I would be so grateful if someone were to explain to me what exactly is going on. thanks! Just e-mail me.

    Manila, Philippines
    Saturday, November 20, 1999

    Meg Ryan is already to old to play the part! Not to mention unfit. I'm hoping the movie never appears at all. Friday, November 19, 1999

    Palo Alto, USA

    Below are the comments of Megan Kitson, a student at Mount Saint Mary College. She e-mailed me privately about the Hughes tribute held here in New York City a while back. I was distraught over having to miss it, but apparently, I would have been more upset if I had attended. Here's Megan's review: "As part of my Sylvia Plath/Ted Hughes seminar course, we went to the 92nd Street Y for this reading. I was thouroughly disgusted. None of the poems in Birthday Letters were read because the people reading didn't feel that this was any of Hughes' good work. They all seemed to have a total lack of respect for Sylvia and it seemed as though she was the reason they wouldn't read from that collection since it's about Hughes' life with Plath. I feel that I was cheated and wasted my money. It was not at all what I expected. ... They all seemed to love Hughes' third wife, Carol, and despise Sylvia."

    Michael McGraw
    New York, USA
    Friday, November 19, 1999

    To Felicity, those lines are not in Birthday Letters, that's all I can say. They somehow sounded as tough they could be and so I looked the book through - nothing.

    However, I realised it was time to read his poems again, not starting on the first page as I did when the book came out, but just browsing through, waiting until a phrase catches my eye and then reading on. I like it more now than when I first read the book.

    Anja Beckmann
    Leipzig, Germany
    Friday, November 19, 1999

    Could someone please help me?? I have an essay due monday (november 22) on The Bell Jar. I need some essays off the net for my research, but i am having trouble finding any. If anyone can help me, please send me an email. I would REALLY appreciate it.

    Big Stone Gap, USA
    Friday, November 19, 1999

    I am in a seminar on Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes. My professor wrote a biography on Plath and now I am to write a paper on the lives of Freida and Nicholas. Of course she is much more educated on the topic than I, so I write to see if anyone has any info on the topic that's not common knowledge. I appreciate any input. Thanks,

    Megan Kitson
    Newburgh, NY, USA
    Friday, November 19, 1999

    I am writing my MA thesis about Sylvia and her shifting attitudes towards masculinity. I would be deeply grateful for any useful information. Please, help me, my deadlines don't let me sleep! Thank you in advance.

    Dzieroniw, Poland
    Thursday, November 18, 1999

    I am looking for the title of a Ted Hughes poem which has the lines:

    Any ideas?

    Hebden Bridge, UK
    Thursday, November 18, 1999

    I know this is trivial, but in the recent issue of Vanity Fair, Meg Ryan indicates that by the time she gets a workable script for her proposed Sylvia Plath movie, she expects to be too old to play the part. It seems that another actress will star in the film and Ryan will produce.

    Detroit, USA
    Thursday, November 18, 1999

    I was just wondering what the moon symbolises in Plath's collection Ariel?? It would help me greatly!!! Thanks Ali

    Ali Daniels
    Trevone, England
    Thursday, November 18, 1999

    I discovered Sylvia Plath in the summer of 1998. She has since been my favorite writer (This was before I discovered she had commited suicide with her kids in the house.) However, even though she did unfortunatley commit suicide I admire her always. She believed she could solve her problems herself, unfortunatley she was incorrect. My favorite poems of hers are Tale of a Tub, Spinster and Pursuit. When I did this internet search for information about her for a report I'm writing in honors english (high school) I was hoping to find one of those things like Robert Frost has where you click the name of his poem and can actually hear him reading it aloud. If anyone knows of such a site or source please e-mail me.

    Elizabeth Dickinson
    Fairway, KS, USA
    Thursday, November 18, 1999

    I am researching the Sylvia Plath and have heard that there is a good web site by ROBYN MARSACK. Does anyone know anything about it, and if you do could you please e-mail me the site address? Thanks very much!

    London, UK
    Thursday, November 18, 1999

    Re: 'I look to God but the sky is empty'

    This is a remark from Plath's journals and I think is in both the extracts (Cambridge notes?) in Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams and the published Journals.

    Leeds, UK
    Tuesday, November 16, 1999

    Hello, I was very happy to find this page. I study at Mannheim University (Germany) and since a couple of weeks I am trying to find an issue for my paper in English Literature. I am sure now, that I want to write about Sylvia Plath. She is not very famouse in Germany and therefor it is hard to find information about her work. But I am fascinated by her life. My teacher is not sure whether I can handle that subjekt but I really want to try. So, if there is someone who can give me some advice which topic I could choose-please send me an Email. I know most of her poems and I have read "The Bell Jar" but I still dont know how to find the right heading.

    Weinheim, Germany
    Monday, November 15, 1999

    I found a first edition U.K. copy of Birthday Letters on-line, and asked the seller to tell me if the list of poems in the U.S. edition (which I supplied him with - all 88, poor man) differed from the list of poems of the U.K. edition. According to the book seller, they did not differ. So, I think it's a 'rumour' that the U.K. version of BL's has different/additional poems. Perhaps the printing of a poem like "The Offers" in the London Times fueled this particular fire. However, I am quite happy to be corrected should my information be wrong!

    Detroit, USA
    Monday, November 15, 1999

    Hello, I was wondering if you could help me interpreting some lines from Sylvia Plath's poem "Daddy". For example: What does "The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna/Are not very pure of true." mean? The other words I don't understand are "gobbledygoo", "Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You--". The last line "I was ten when they buried you", I understand that Sylvia Plath's dad died when she was eight but why did she write "I was ten when they buried you"? My group is interpreting this poem for our AP course. If you could reply to me by November 19, I would be very grateful. Thank you very much.

    Honolulu, USA
    Monday, November 15, 1999

    I'm doing an analysis of Sylvia Plath's poem "Elm" and I'm having a bit of trouble getting started. If anyone can help me out that would be great! Thanks.

    Dartford, England
    Monday, November 15, 1999

    I am very impressed with the quality of discussion and analysis on this site, and spent several days recently reading through the past postings. it's now my daily habit to check in here. In reference to the question about the UK vs US edition of Birthday Letters, I am wondering if anyone knows what poems specifically were edited out from the American edition?
    I also wonder if anyone has heard rumblings on when we may see a complete collection of Hughes, including the recent poems that were not included in either the UK or American edition of Birthday Letters, for example The Offers.

    Sorry for the Hughes related questions, I recognise this is a Plath site; however, I believe Birthday Letters is one of the more interesting documents relevant to Plath, besides her poetry.

    On a personal note, I read and discovered Plath years ago and devoured all her works as well as all lit criticism. However I put her aside for some time as felt her poetry no longer had anything to say to me. But now upon re-reading Ariel as well as previous works, I am struck by how much more I can relate to her struggles and pursuit of her own truth. Maybe the voice of experience, the struggles of discovering an individual and authentic self, finding a place in the world-these kinds of experiences lend to a deeper reading and understanding of Plath's poetical voice.

    Thanks for this marvellous forum! Especially now with the new developments in Plath studies-new releases pending of the Journals for example, it is so valuable to have this space to stay connected to other Plath "observers".

    Edmonton, Canada
    Sunday, November 14, 1999

    Help! For my A-level coursework, I'm comparing/discussing Ariel to her earlier work (esp. Colossus). Does anybody have hints/tips/help? Thanks.

    Stephen Lynn
    Antrim, Co. Antrim
    Sunday, November 14, 1999

    Am I to understand that the UK edition of Birthday Letters has poems in it that were edited out for the US edition? And I thought I had it! Damn. Could anyone clue me in as to *why* they were edited? Is it worth it to order a UK copy of this book? Thanks.

    Nashville, USA
    Thursday, November 11, 1999

    I'm doing a critical anaysis research paper on Plath. Any ides on which poem will serve me well in finding out information from critics? Any suggestions will be appreciated. Thanks!

    Castleton, USA
    Thursday, November 11, 1999

    Thannks to everyone for the help i'll let you know how i get on!Does anyone know which poem has the phrase "i look to god but the sky is empty" I found it mentioned on the Manics "generation terrorists" album.Oh and someone talk to brendan i think he needs a life!

    Wadebridge, Cornwall, England

    I am currently studying the relationship between Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton. There are fascinating similarities between the two poets (friends). My poems of choice are Plath's "Lady Lazarus" and "Edge" along with Sexton's "Consorting with Angels" and "Sylvia's Death." Powerful writing from both ladies. Death poems that fueled the fires which led to two tragic suicides.

    Cincinnati, USA
    Wednesday, November 10, 1999

    With reference to the journals being published, I thought I saw in CNN that they would not come out in England until next April, and that the publisher for the USA was still being decided. If anyone knows differently, please post. I am excited by this publishing, and am looking for it.

    Yonkers, Virginia, USA
    Sunday, November 7, 1999

    help! i'm doing an essay on plath's family relationships and how they influence her poetry in the ariel collection. I love the poetry and the site but i just don't know how to do it justice!!

    Wadebridge, Cornwall, England
    Sunday, November 7, 1999

    Next Tuesday, November 9th, Frieda Hughes will be reading from her poetry, Waterloo, at Smith College at 7:30 p.m. at the Wright Hall Auditorium.

    New Haven, USA
    Thursday, November 4, 1999

    For those interested--Ted Hughes new translation of Euripides Alcestis is finally available in good bookstores across the US.

    Peter Steinberg
    Springfield, VA, USA
    Thursday, November 4, 1999

    Currently doing Sylvia's poems as part of English Lit A Level. Have to do a comparison piece with Ted Hughes. All very depressing and way too poemy for me.

    Liverpool, UK
    Thursday, November 4, 1999

    I have tried to obtain a copy of Linda Wagner-Martin's new book on Sylvia Plath, however, I have not had any luck in trying to find it. I have checked Barnes & Noble and Borders. Does anybody know where I can purchased this book? I am writing a research paper on her for a literature class, which is due in December. If anybody has any information please response. Thanks!

    Levittown, USA
    Monday, November 1, 1999

    We have a link to the book on our books page - EC

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    This forum is administered by Elaine Connell, author of Sylvia Plath: Killing The Angel In The House - second edition with new preface just out, December 1998. Elaine lives in Hebden Bridge, near where Sylvia Plath is buried and where Ted Hughes was born. Web Design by Pennine Pens. This forum is moderated - contributions which are inappropriate, anonymous or likely to offend may be edited or omitted.