Poetry is a complex form of literature that also doubles as art and expresses feelings and ideas through language. Poetry goes beyond a simple rhyme scheme that keeps us chained to a rhythm we may not even recognize. Although using poetic meter can absolutely benefit a poet by contributing to the poet’s tone and setting up a reader’s expectations for the poem, this device comes at a cost. Using a harmonic rhyme scheme can also disadvantage one’s poem because the reader can value the rhyme and rhythm over the actual words and meaning. Because of this, the modernist movement took place in poetry and other forms of art. Modernists are writers who break from traditional literary style and revolutionize poetry by incorporating current events and new language. Sylvia Plath was an American modernist poet who certainly expressed herself through her novels, confessional style poetry, and “short stories”. Plath’s most famous poems include “Daddy”, “Lady Lazarus”, “Tulips”, and “Ariel”. Sylvia Plath was born in 1932, meaning she was born several years before WWII and lived through the last seven years of The Great Depression. Shortly after her eighth birthday, Plath lost her father, an entomologist and biology professor at Boston University, about a month after his foot amputation from diabetes was announced gangrene in 1940. From just her early years of seven to thirteen, she had seen so much violence in her world environment and endured so much emotional trauma. These facts have a significant impact on her writing and her need to express her feelings of helplessness from such an early age.  Plath had unfortunately lived through many years of war and chaos through her physical environment, which provoked those same feelings of chaos and isolation within her, psychologically. Sylvia Plath’s history has played a crucial role in how she viewed the world around her, which translated through her poetry.Born October 27, 1932, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Aurelia and Otto Plath, Sylvia Plath had an interest in writing from the very beginning. At an early age she kept a journal to write and practice her skill, in fact, her first poem was published in the Boston Sunday Herald when she was just eight years old. In fifth grade, Plath had stayed back. Although this is seen as a weakness in intellect for most, this caused her to excel in all academics from then on and aced all her high school courses, her highest performance being in creative writing. Plath had published many exemplary works, winning her the Olive Higgins Prouty Scholarship to Smith College in 1950, where she went on to study English and writing. While continuing to exceed academically in college, Plath also participated in many clubs and organizations, mostly involving writing, such as being a member of the editorial board of one of the college’s humor magazines, Campus Cat. She was also Press Board Correspondent for the Daily Hampshire Gazette and the Springfield Daily News, and she was also the editor of the Smith Review, the college’s literary magazine. In her sophomore year she had several poems published by Harper’s Magazine, won two Smith College Prize Awards for Poetry, and she also had several short stories and poems published in Seventeen Magazine. During the summer of 1953, Plath was named one of 20 guest editors of Mademoiselle Magazine, earning her time to spend a month in New York City. Unfortunately, her experience in New York did not meet her expectations, being that she was unable to meet with her idol, Dylan Thomas, after waiting outside his hotel for two days she committed self-harm a few weeks later. After that incident, she was not permitted entry to the Harvard writing seminar. Plath suffered from mental illness, depression amongst other illnesses, she received electroconvulsive therapy, better known as shock therapy. These circumstances led her to her first attempted suicide, that same year, by hiding under her house in a crawl space and overdosing on sleeping pills at twenty-one years old, unfound for three days. Plath then spent the next six months in McLean Hospital, a mental hospital, under the care of Dr. Ruth Beuscher, where she would eventually recover and return to college. A year later, Plath moved to Lawrence House and received a full scholarship to study German at the Harvard Summer School, before returning her senior year. Plath also received a Fulbright scholarship to study at England’s Cambridge University at Newnham College after graduating summa cum laude from Smith in June of 1955. During her time in Cambridge, she continued her writing and publishing her own works in the student newspaper and spent her first year’s breaks traveling around Europe. Plath met her husband Ted Hughes at Cambridge University during a party. From there they dated for a few months and decided to get married. In the beginning, their marriage was sweet, writing each other poems and enjoying themselves, but later would turn sour. From 1957 to 1958, Plath returned to the United States to be an English and Literature instructor at Smith College. Although she enjoyed teaching, she found she had little time to spend on her writing, and so she gave up teaching and settled permanently in England in 1959. Plath published her first book of poetry, The Colossus, in 1960. That same year in April, she birthed her first child, Frieda. Two years later, in 1962, her son Nicholas was born, she had written, The Applicant, a poem about society’s construct of gender and it’s harmful effects on young women. Plath’s marriage was falling apart, and Hughes eventually left their family for another woman. Plath published her novel, The Bell Jar, under the name, Victoria Lucas. Interestingly, her novel was published in England in January of 1963, however, it was not published in America until 1971. On February 11, 1963, at thirty years old Plath committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning, however protecting her children by sealing the kitchen doors shut from all entries one month after her novel’s publication. Published after her death, Ariel, her second book of poetry was written in the last few months of her life.


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