Sylvia Plath Quotes

Quotes From the Pulitzer-winning Poet's Haunting and Emotional Works

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Sylvia Plath is a controversial and passionate figure in American literature. A prolific writer who started writing before the age of 10, Plath is best known for her semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar and poems such as "The Colossus" and "Lady Lazarus." Even as her words touch us to our very core, they also spur so many questions and debates. How could a woman who was filled with such beautiful and passionate words also be torn by such inner torment?

She offers such a personal look at her life, love, and demons. Do we dare look away? 

For a glimpse into Sylvia Plath's enduring works imbued with imagery, raw emotion, and haunting words, here is a list of quotes by the Pulitzer-winning poet. 

Love and Relationships

"How we need another soul to cling to."

"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."

"I do not love; I do not love anybody except myself. That is a rather shocking thing to admit. I have none of the selfless love of my mother. I have none of the plodding, practical love."
The Journals of Sylvia Plath

"I love people. Everybody. I love them, I think, as a stamp collector loves his collection. Every story, every incident, every bit of conversation is raw material for me.

My love's not impersonal yet not wholly subjective either. I would like to be everyone, a cripple, a dying man, a whore, and then come back to write about my thoughts, my emotions, as that person. But I am not omniscient. I have to live my life, and it is the only one I'll ever have.'"
The Bell Jar

"I lean to you, numb as a fossil. Tell me I'm here."

"I must get my soul back from you; I am killing my flesh without it."
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

"Kiss me and you'll know how important I am."

"Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences."
The Bell Jar

"There is nothing like puking with somebody to make you into old friends."
The Bell Jar

"What did my arms do before they held you?"

Death

"Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one's head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no to-morrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace."

The Bell Jar

Self-Doubt

"And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worse enemy to creativity is self-doubt."
The Journals of Sylvia Plath

"I am supposed to be having the time of my life."
The Bell Jar

"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."

Inner-Tension

"I have the choice of being constantly active and happy or introspectively passive and sad. Or I can go mad ricocheting in between."
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead; I lift my eyes and all is born again."

"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."
- The Bell Jar

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

"Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing."

Exuberance

"I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery - air, mountains, trees, people.

I thought, 'This is what it is to be happy.'"
The Bell Jar

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

"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."

"That's one of the reasons I never wanted to get married. The last thing I wanted was infinite security and to be the place an arrow shoots off from. I wanted change and excitement and to shoot off in all directions myself, like the colored arrows from a Fourth of July rocket."
- The Bell Jar

Despair and Melancholy

"I talk to God but the sky is empty."
The Bell Jar

"The silence depressed me. It wasn't the silence of silence. It was my own silence."
- The Bell Jar

"The trouble was, I had been inadequate all along, I simply hadn't thought about it."
- The Bell Jar

"There is something demoralizing about watching two people get more and more crazy about each other, especially when you are the only extra person in the room. It's like watching Paris from an express caboose heading in the opposite direction--every second the city gets smaller and smaller, only you feel it's really you getting smaller and smaller and lonelier and lonelier, rushing away from all those lights and excitement at about a million miles an hour."
- The Bell Jar

"To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is a bad dream."
The Bell Jar