Sylvia Plath Quotes

1932 - 1963

Photo of Sylvia Plath at her gravesite
Photo of Sylvia Plath at her gravesite. Amy T. Zielinski/Getty Images

Sylvia Plath was a poet and writer. Her verse was emotional and often autobiographical. Sylvia Plath committed suicide at thirty. Sylvia Plath's life story is told in the play and film The Bell Jar, which was also the name of her autobiographical novel.

Selected Sylvia Plath Quotations

• I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am.

• Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences.

• Can a selfish egocentric jealous and unimaginative female write a damn thing worthwhile?

• Dying is an art, like everything else. I do it exceptionally well. I do it so it feels like hell. I do it so it feels real. I guess you could say I've a call.

• I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.

• Is there no way out of the mind?

• Remember, remember, this is now, and now, and now. Live it, feel it, cling to it. I want to become acutely aware of all I've taken for granted.

• It is a feeling that no matter what the ideas or conduct of others, there is a unique rightness and beauty to life which can be shared in openness, in wind and sunlight, with a fellow human being who believes in the same basic principles.

• For me, poetry is an evasion of the real job of writing prose.

•  [W]hen you’re writing, you don’t do any twenty-year pension plans or anything of that sort, and need a bit more faith and brazenness perhaps than if one has a steady job.

• I wanted change and excitement and to shoot off in all directions myself, like the colored arrows from a Fourth of July rocket.

• I am inhabited by a cry.
Nightly it flaps out
Looking, with its hooks, for something to love.
I am terrified by this dark thing
That sleeps in me;
All day I feel its soft, feathery turnings, its malignity.

• If I rest, if I think inward, I go mad.

• Life has been some combination of fairy-tale coincidence and joie de vivre and shocks of beauty together with some hurtful self-questioning.

• I have the choice of being constantly active and happy or introspectively passive and sad. Or I can go mad by ricocheting in between.

• If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I'm neurotic as hell. I'll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days.

• Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything it is because we are dangerously near wanting nothing.

• You don't believe in God, or life-after-death, so you can't hope for sugar plums when your non-existent soul rises.

• I talk to God but the sky is empty.

• I love him to hell and back and heaven and back, and have and do and will.

• There must be quite a few things a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them.

•  I think I was happy up to the age of about nine — very carefree — and I believed in magic, which influenced me a great bit.

And then, at nine, I was rather disillusioned — I stopped believing in elves and Santa Claus and all these little beneficent powers — and became more realistic and depressed, I think, and then, gradually, became a bit more adjusted about the age of sixteen or seventeen. 

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About These Quotes

Quote collection assembled by Jone Johnson Lewis. Each quotation page in this collection and the entire collection © Jone Johnson Lewis. This is an informal collection assembled over many years. I regret that I am not be able to provide the original source if it is not listed with the quote.

Citation information:
Jone Johnson Lewis. "Sylvia Plath Quotes." About Women's History.

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