Today is the 49th anniversary of Anglo-American poet Sylvia Plath’s death.  Her work affected me greatly as a young person and continues to today. Her prose is some of the most elegant and forthright and brave ever collected in the English language.

She was one of the brightest minds in the English, and the fact that she left so quickly is a tragedy but it gives her words all the more immediacy. If you’re looking some good quotes from her, Paste magazine is a great place to start.

“Why can’t I try on different lives, like dresses, to see which one fits me and is most becoming?”

More than anything else however, I recommend reading the unabridged journals. Her introspection and vivid imagery is breathtaking.

With her widow, Ted Hughes, now gone as well it is interesting to discuss her life and legacy unburdened by the living participants. Was she a hero of women’s literature and letters? Of course! I am not sure if she would see herself that way. If anything comes of Plath’s writing, it should be that while mental illness can breed great accomplishments, it is a dangerous and often tragically fatal muse. Instead of writing today about Plath’s unfortunate and early demise, I wish I were writing about a long career of letters in poetry and the arts. That ‘life’, as Plath called them, will never exist, and that is probably what makes me saddest about remembering her passing.

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