‘Words’ was one of the last poems Sylvia Plath wrote before her tragic suicide in February 1963. (Plath would kill herself on 11 February 1963, in a London apartment she had decided to rent because W. B. Yeats had once lived there; ‘Words’ was written on 1 February.) You can read Plath’s poem ‘Words’ here before proceeding to our analysis below.
As the poem’s title implies, ‘Words’ is a meditation on the very stuff of poetry, although it is neither wholly favourable nor wholly damning about the power of words. We begin, in summary, with a single word: ‘Axes’. Its plural picking up on the poem’s plural title, ‘Axes’ immediately invites us to draw a link between title and opening line: words are axes, in that they are cutting, powerful, but also potentially deadly. After one has struck the wood of the tree or log with an axe, the wood ‘rings’. Read the rest of this entry
The best poems by Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath (1932-63) was a prolific poet for the few years that she was active before her untimely death, by her own hand, aged just 30. But what are her greatest poems? A few titles spring to mind, but it’s not easy to reach a consensus on, say, Sylvia Plath’s top ten best poems. But we like a challenge here, so we’ve suggested ten of Plath’s finest and most famous poems, along with a little bit about each of them.
‘Lady Lazarus’. Lazarus is the man in the New Testament who is raised from the dead by Jesus. Plath gives the name a twist in this poem, one of Plath’s finest poems, by linking it to her numerous suicide attempts. ‘Lady Lazarus’ contains the famous line ‘dying is an art’, among many other haunting and memorable lines and images. Read the rest of this entry
Five interesting facts about the poet Sylvia Plath
1. The first time Sylvia Plath met Ted Hughes, she was so excited that she bit him on the face. The two felt an inexplicable attraction to one another and almost immediately began biting each other’s faces off – literally. When they left the party at which they had met, Plath noticed that blood was running down Hughes’ face. Read the rest of this entry