Daily routines were the kind of thing Plath liked to describe in letters to her mother, so we know that [she and Hughes] planned to write for four to six hours a day, 8:30-12:00 in the morning, 4:00-6:00 in the afternoon. In later years, after they had children, they split the day into two parts: Plath took the hours after breakfast, and she aimed to be at work by 9:00; Hughes had the hours between lunch and tea. Despite the evident differences in their dispositions, routines suited both of them, and what they considered good work flowed from Hughes’s pen and Plath’s keyboard for the whole of their first two months of married life.”
Even in the frenzied final months of Plath’s life, during which she was plagued by anxiety, depression, and insomnia, she would write from 4 a.m., when her sleeping pills wore off, until 8 a.m., when her son and daughter woke up and needed her. She wrote much of the heralded poetry collection Ariel in this fashion.
Even in the face of severe anguish and exacerbating mental illness, Sylvia Plath maintained her astonishing daily routine – she was, after all, an “addict of experience.”
Complement with the daily routines of Charles Darwin, William S. Burroughs, Kurt Vonnegut, Mark Twain, Gertrude Stein, Vladimir Nabokov, James Joyce, and other famous writers.
(↬ The Dish)
From now on: see if this is possible: set alarm for 7:30 and get up then, tired or not. Rip through breakfast and housecleaning (bed and dishes, mopping or whatever) by 8:30… . Be writing before 9 (nine), that takes the curse off it.
Most Beds are Beds for sleeping and resting, but the best Beds are much more interesting!
The Bed Book – a rare British first edition of Sylvia Plath’s vintage verses for kids, illustrated by the great Quentin Blake.
He ripped the red hair band from her head and ravished her with such force that her silver earrings came unclipped from her ears. He moved down to kiss her neck, and Plath bit him “long and hard” on the cheek; when the couple emerged from the room, blood was pouring down his face.
After this fruitful year, I know that writing poetry will always be the richest, most rewarding part of a full maturing life.
In this never-before-published correspondence with the Academy of American Poets, Sylvia Plath, who took her life on this day in 1963, sends a thank-you letter for being awarded the Academy’s prize at Smith College.
Complement with her poignant personal diaries from the same period.
Oh, something is there, waiting for me. Perhaps someday the revelation will burst upon me and I will see the other side of this monumental grotesque joke. And then I’ll laugh. And then I’ll know what life is.
Plath was gifted. She could have been great. Wrong generation. Wrong medication.
I wonder if Plath would have been saved had she been born in a different time: in a time when psycho-pharmacologists are no more shameful to visit than hairdressers and women write celebrated personal essays about being bad mothers and cutters and are reclaiming the word slut. Would she have been a riot grrrl, embracing an angry feminist aesthetic? Addicted to Xanax? A blogger for Slate?
I may never be happy, but tonight I am content. Nothing more than an empty house, the warm hazy weariness from a day spent setting strawberry runners in the sun, a glass of cool sweet milk, and a shallow dish of blueberries bathed in cream. Now I know how people can live without books, without college. When one is so tired t the end of a day one must sleep, and at the next dawn there are more strawberry runners to set, and so one goes on living, near the earth. At times like this I’d call myself a fool to ask for more…
18-year-old Sylvia Plath
, who took her own life 50 years ago today, in her diary
Life is a gentleman’s agreement to grin and paint your face gay so others will feel they are silly to be unhappy, and try to catch the contagion of joy, while inside so many are dying of bitterness and unfulfillment.
Plath was an addict of experience, and she could not bear the fact that young women like her were denied something so life-enhancing. In the same letter she goes on to write of her deep envy of males, anger she describes as ‘insidious, malignant, latent.’
Sex — or rather the constraints and repressions surrounding it — played a central role in Plath’s creative and psychological development. She realized, as she wrote in her journal in the autumn of 1950, she was too well brought up to disregard tradition, yet she hated boys who could express themselves sexually while she had no choice but to ‘drag’ herself from one date to the next in ‘soggy desire.’ The system, she added, disgusted her.
Just as Marilyn Monroe is now seen as the archetypal tragic Hollywood blonde, so Plath has been flattened into the prototype of the mentally tormented poet, the betrayed woman, the tragic literary blonde.
She told me it was a girl, and so I turned my head away and wept. ‘All right,’ I said, ‘I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.’
What Sylvia Plath underlined in her copy of The Great Gatsby. For an equally poetic complement, see 18-year-old Plath on loving everybody and living with curiosity.