Being born in 1932 and living only 30 years before taking her own life, Plath is a poet who battled with the struggles of mental health from a very young age. Her first suicide attempt in 1953, when she was only 19 years old, became the inspiration for ‘The Bell Jar’. She spent the next six months in psychiatric care before returning to finish college.
Her poetry spans across themes of her own mental health, motherhood, family, and touches on her own relationships, especially that of her marriage to fellow writer, Ted Hughes.
Plath’s poetry is beautiful to read, heavy in theme yet incredibly skilled, it is obvious why she has become one of the most acclaimed poets of the 20th century; her work touching and moving people long after her passing.
Top 16 Sylvia Plath Poems
This poem includes some of the major themes within Sylvia Plath’s works, solitude and death, as seen through the use of natural images. The poem takes place in a cemetery in the month of November. It discusses how there is really nothing present in the land beyond the physical. It is winter, therefore all the plants are dying, but not willingly.
They cling desperately and uselessly to their foliage. Just as the plants attempt to maintain life into the winter, so too does humanity seek something after death. The speaker goes on to say that there is nothing magical about the cemetery, in fact, it is just a physical location, without any attachment to those bodies within its grounds.
‘Winter landscape with rocks’ describes one speaker’s state of mind through the metaphor of a dark, almost lifeless landscape. The speaker takes note of how fluidly a river runs through the different parts of a watermill. It goes past all obstacles and enters a dark pond. It is a dreary place, but there is some life there. A swan enters the scene and its purity at that moment strikes the speaker. It is out of place within the narrative, but at the same time makes sense.
Plath’s speaker, who is likely the poet herself, moves through the landscape and speaks to her listener, addressing the frozen nature of her heart. The poem speaks to a feeling of confinement and isolation which were on Plath’s mind in a number of other poems on this list.