Mental Health · Poetry

Happy Birthday, Sylvia

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84 years ago one of the most influential American poets was born. She lived to be 30. A dreamer, a romantic, a feminist, Sylvia Plath remains one of the most recognizable literary names of our time.

Born in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, Plath was a successful and prolific student. Her first poem was published when she was eight. She went on to study at Smith College and Newnham College at the University of Cambridge, and married poet Ted Hughes in 1956. They had two children.

Before her suicide in 1963, Plath largely wrote confessional poetry and published her first poetry collection, The Colossus, and her semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar. Her other poetry collections, Ariel, Crossing the Water, Winter Trees, and The Collected Poems were published posthumously.

Sylvia Plath is often defined by her death, but to those who have read and found familiarity in her body of work she means much more than that. Her poetry, frequently described as raw or sardonic, has become something of a lighthouse for those readers who also suffer from depression or even just a sense of longing for something more. It is proof that we are not, and have never been, alone in the dark. We can only dream of what she could have written in the subsequent 50 years.

For the gifts we have been given, we thank you, Sylvia Plath. Happy birthday. May you rest.

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