I recently wrote an article for qmunicate about the cultural misconceptions surrounding the works of Sylvia Plath.
It received a fairly good response from friends and readers equally, I’ve even received some messages telling me the article spoke to them personally, or encouraged them to try some Plath.
Considering a significant part of the article is devoted to the danger of de-contextualising quotes on sites such like Tumblr, I can’t believe I haven’t posted it on here yet. Hope you enjoy!
Everyone who ever posted a Sylvia Plath quote on their blog and did/does not care where it came from or what it really means should read this! This is just perfect! And it sums up perfectly what I think and feel every time I read “I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead” or “Kiss me and you will see how important I am”.
Thank you, Helen Murray!
"Sometimes I dream of a tree,
And the tree is my life.
One branch is the man I shall marry
And the leaves my children.
Another branch is my future as a writer
And each leaf is a poem.
Another branch is a glittering academic career.
But as I sit there, trying to choose,
The leaves begin to turn brown and blow away
Until the tree is absolutely bare.”
ONLY THAT THIS QUOTE IS NOT COMING FROM The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath or The Bell Jar AS YOU TAGGED IT!
And it is not a quote by Sylvia Plath either! It’s a quote from the movie Sylvia, since they were not allowed to use her quotes, they just made something up!
I would be very careful with such a labelling, because it can create the next “Barbara Laage situation”!
If you had simply reblogged my post (since you liked is shortly before you posted yours anyway) instead of just taking the picture and the quote, you not only would have gotten the caption right, but you would also have kept the picture credit!
Honestly people, something like this makes me really furious!!
I wonder now, on August 6, lying here on my white bed, listening to the rain: slant long and hard on the roof outside my windows coming down liquidly, drippingly plural and generous from the low gray skies, fluently saying what I choose to make it say. Slanting down the screen in milky, translucent streams, prolific, uncaringly beneficent, it heals or annoys, (as we humans choose to translate it.) And I love it because of the sound, and the gray pluvial walls of it dropping down, closing in.
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 6 August 1952
Three years ago, the hot, sticky August rain fell big and wet as I sat listlessly on my porch at home, crying over the way summer would not come again - never the same. […] August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 8 August 1952
And I look at the windshield wipers cutting an arch out of the sprinkled raindrops on the glass. Click-click. Clip-clip. Tick-tick. snip-snip. And it goes on and on. I could smash the measured clicking sound that haunts me - draining away life, and dreams, and idle reveries. Hard, sharp, ticks. I hate them. Measuring thought, infinite space, by cogs and wheels. Can you understand? Someone, somewhere, can you understand me a little, love me a little? For all my despair, for all my ideals, for all that - I love life. But it is hard, and I have so much - so very much to learn -
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950
Rain on roof outside window, gray light, deep covers and warm blankets. Rain and nip of autumn in air; nostalgia, itch to work better and bigger. That crisp edge of autumn.
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 26 August 1956 in Paris
May 13 - today I bought a raincoat - no, that was yesterday - yesterday I bought a raincoat with a frivolous pink lining that does good to my eyes because I have never ever had anything pink-colored, and it was much too expensive - I bought it with a month’s news office pay, and soon I will not have any money to do anything more with because I am buying clothes because I love them and they are exactly right, if I pay enough. And I feel dry and a bit sick whenever I say “I’ll take it” and the smiling woman goes away with my money because she doesn’t know I really don’t have money at all at all. For three villanelles I have a blue-and-white pin-striped cotton cord suit dress, a black silk date dress and a grey raincoat with a frivolous pink lining.
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 13 May 1953
Today is the first of August. It is hot, steamy and wet. It is raining. I am tempted to write a poem. But I remember what it said on one rejection slip: After a heavy rainfall, poems titled RAIN pour in from across the nation.
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, August 1950
It’s only August and I was hoping to finally enjoy a few days off and catch some sun at the sea in Holland… yeah… It has been raining for the past 10 days straight and it seems the summer is saying its premature goodbyes. Even my turtle seems to know the fall is coming, because she doesn’t want to eat anymore. Looks as if she prepares herself for hibernation.
That’s why I thought we might have a "Sylvia-Plath-on-Rain"-week! ;) Plath’s journals, letters and poems are filled with wonderful descriptions of rainy days and rain related situations. This week, I’m going to present you a few rainy quotes from The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath.
I hope you like! :)
Sylvia Plath, possibly around the years of ‘60-63 (?) (possibly right before her death). For some reason I tend to prefer her during this time. There’s something about the way she appears around the 60s. I also prefer her dark hair and bangs over her blonde locs of the 50s. My favorite is the second photo, it seems like a poem is creeping up inside of her head, or maybe she’s just simply lost in thought.
Actually these pictures were taken in July 1959 during the road trip Plath and Hughes took together. The first pic was taken at at Rock Lake, Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada and the second one at Jackson Lake, Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, USA.
You can find boths pictures along with three others from this trip in The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath.
Sylvia Plath’s the Bell Jar Series
By Jensine Eckwall
Etching and aquatint with hand-applied watercolor.
Jensine’s Tumblr: http://jensineeckwall.tumblr.com/
Jensine’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jensineeckwallillo
You can buy Jensine’s prints here: http://www.inprnt.com/gallery/jensine/
The illustrations are inspired by and captioned with the following quotes from The Bell Jar and other works by Sylvia Plath:
"I Was Supposed to be Having the Time of My Life."
—The Bell Jar, Chapter One
"I Am Horribly Limited."
—1950, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
"I Am, I Am, I Am"
—The Bell Jar, Chapter Twenty
"I Didn’t Want Any Flowers"
—”Tulips”, 18 March 1961, The Collected Poems
"We’ll Act as if This Were a Bad Dream"
—The Bell Jar, Chapter Twenty
"I Was Open to the Circulating Air"
—The Bell Jar, Chapter Eighteen
Jensine’s own Sylvia Plath’s the Bell Jar Series tumblr post: here
I Didn’t Want Any Flowers (Test Print) in color: here
We’ll Act As If This Were A Bad Dream, payne’s grey variant proof: here
Submitted by Marlaina from http://lionsroar83.tumblr.com/:
"Here are my cats reading Sylvia’s books! Bee has ‘Ariel’ and Gemini has ‘Sylvia’s Unabridged Journals’."
via moonshineandlemon.blogspot.com (see for recipe)
**Sylvia Plath | Fig and Plum Torte**
Maria K. from her blog moonshineandlemon.blogspot.com describes her cake in the following way:
"Not wishing to choose between figs and plums, I decided to use both in this heavenly combination of two fruit; more fig than plum, more torte than cake."
Today’s cake is not exactly a cake Sylvia Plath made, but it is one she could have made, because figs and plums were always present in her writing. The most prominent examples are of course the fig tree portrayed in The Bell Jar ("I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree…") or one of her earlier poems published in November 1950 in Seventeen magazine with the title "Ode to a Bitten Plum".
In her Letters Home Sylvia mentions seeing fig- and plum-trees. And in her Unabridged Journals she writes on 6 March 1956:
"I was thinking of the few times in my life I have felt I was all alive, tensed, using everything in me: mind and body, instead of giving away little crumbs, lest the audience be glutted with too much plum-cake."
Apart from this, there are are many poems in Sylvia Plath’s “The Collected Poems" that contain images of figs and plums:
Counting the red stars and those of plum-color.
"The Zookeeper’s Wife"
Blueblack, a spectacular plum fruit.
"Nick and the Candlestick"
They weld to me like plums.
While like an early summer plum,
Puny, green, and tart,
Droops upon its wizened stem
My lean, unripened heart.
These goatish tragedians who
Hawk misfortune like figs and chickens
The figs on the fig tree in the yard are green;
Sun grains their crow-colors,
Purples the fig in the leaf’s shadow, turns the dust pink.
So, here you go… The Fig and Plum Torte, which could also be called The Bell Jar Cake! ;)
via paperandsalt.org (see for recipe)
**Sylvia Plath: Lemon Pudding Cakes**
In her awesome article Baking with Sylvia (hence the name for the theme week!) published on 15 February 2003 in The Guardian, Kate Moses, the author of Wintering: The Novel of Sylvia Plath, tells us that Sylvia Plath documented in her 1962 daily calendar that she made lemon pudding cake when she was writing “Lady Lazarus”, some time between 23-29 October.
Some time beweeen 3 January 1957 and 11 March 1957, Sylvia Plath wrote in her Journals: "Instead of studying Locke, for instance, or writing - I go make an apple pie, or study The Joy Of Cooking, reading it like a rare novel."
Nicole from paperandsalt.org says that the recipe “is nearly identical to the1950s The Joy of Cooking”. So it is highly probable that Sylvia Plath made exactly the same cake while composing one of the greatest poems ever written! ;)
Recreate and enjoy! ;)
**Sylvia Plath’s Heavenly Sponge Cake**
The last time Rose came to tea I had a big fancy sponge cake made with 6 eggs (…). I broached it for Rose. She made a praising remark. Gobbled it.
—written 1962, Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
For the recipe, see Peter K. Steinberg’s blog sylviaplathinfo.blogspot.com:
"Very light (though heavier and more dense than angel food cake) with a scrumptiously crispy sugary top and a nice flavor of lemon throughout, which surprised us as there is really so little in there. We recommend cutting large portions and serving with a hot beverage (tea or mocha, perhaps) and your favorite book by or about Sylvia Plath."
"Plath made various sponge cakes in her time: some lemon, some orange, and likely some other. She made a sponge cake several times in North Tawton."
"She (…) made a sponge cake on 21 April 1962 (…) and two days after she wrote "Elm".”
For a vegan sponge cake version, see Charlotte White’s recipe from the Food Network UK: http://www.foodnetwork.co.uk/recipes/vegan-sponge-cake.html