Sylvia Plath Quotes

“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 emotion as that person, but I am not omniscient. I have to live my life, and it is the only one I'll  ever have. And you cannot regard your own life with objective curiosity all the time..." (p. 9)

"There are times when a feeling of expectancy comes to me, as if something is there, beneath the surface of my understanding, waiting for me to grasp it. It is the same tantalizing sensation when you almost remember a name, but don't quite reach it. I can feel it when I think of human beings, of the hints of evolution suggestion by the removal of wisdom teeth, the narrowing of the jaw no longer needed to chew such roughage as it was accustomed to; the gradual disappearance of hair from the human body; the adjustment  of the human eye to the fine print, the swift, colored motion of the twentieth century..." (p. 15-16)

 “There is so much hurt in this game of searching for a mate, of testing, of trying. And you realize suddenly that you forgot it was a game, and turn away in tears.” ( p. 20)

“How complex and intricate are the working of the nervous system. The electric shrill of the phone sends a tingle of expectancy along the uterine walls; the sound of his voice, rough, brash and intimate across the wire tightens the intestinal tract. If the substituted the word “Lust for “Love” in popular songs it would come nearer the truth.” (p. 21)

“If I rest, if I think inward, I go mad. There is so much, and I am torn in different directions, pulled thin, taut against horizons too distant for me to reach” (p. 27)

“Now I know what loneliness is, I think. Momentary loneliness, anyway. It comes from a vague core of the self -- like a disease of the blood, dispersed throughout the body so that one cannot locate the matrix, the spot of contagion.” (p.29)

“I can’t deceive myself out of the bare stark realization that no matter how enthusiastic you are, no matter how much that character is fate, nothing is real, past or future, when you are alone in your room with the clock ticking loudly into the false cheerful brilliance of the electric light. And if you have no past or future, which after all, is all the present is made of, why then  you may as well dispose of the empty shell of present and commit suicide. But the cold reasoning mass of gray entrail in my cranium which parrots “I think, therefore I am,” whispers that there is always the turning, the upgrade, the new slant. And so I wait. What avail are good looks? To grab temporary security?  what avail are brains? Merely to say “I have seen; I have comprehended?”...” (p.30)

“Here I am, a bundle of of past recollections and future dreams, knotted up in a reasonably attractive bundle of flesh. I remember what this flesh has gone through; I dream of what it may go through. I record here the actions of optical nerves, of taste buds, of sensory perception. And, I think: I am but one more drop in the great sea of matter, defined, with the ability to realize my existence. Of the millions, I, too, was potentially everything at birth. I, too, was stunted, narrowed warped, by my environment, my outcroppings of heredity. I, too, will find a set of beliefs, of standards to live by yet the very satisfaction of finding them will be marred by the fact that I have reached the ultimate in shallow two-dimensional living - a set of values” (p. 31)

“We all are on the brink, and it takes a lot of nerve, a lot of energy, to teeter on the edge looking over, looking down into the windy blackness and not being quite able to make out through the yellow stinking mist, just what lies below the slime, in the oozing vomit-streaked; and so I could go on, into my thoughts, writing much, trying to find the core, the meaning for myself” (p.32)

“I am jealous of those who think more deeply, who write better, who draw better, who ski better, who look better, who live better, who love better than I. I am sitting at my desk looking out at a bright antiseptic January day, with an icy wind whipping the sky into a white-and-blue froth… I can see the sun light slanting diagonally across the desk, catching on the iridescent filaments of nylon in the stockings I hung over the curtain rod to dry. I think I am worthwhile just because I have optical nerves and can try to put down what they perceive” (p. 34)

“...Frustrated? Yes. Why? Because it is impossible for me to be God - the universal woman-and-man-- or anything much. I am what I feel and think and do. I want to express my being as fully as I can because I somewhere picked up the idea that I could justify my being alive that way.  But if I am to express what I am, I must have a standard of life, a jumping-off place, a technique - to make arbitrary and temporary organization of my own personal and pathetic little chaos.” (p. 45)

“I believe that there are people who think as I do, who have thought as I do, who will think as I do. There those who will live, unconscious of me, but continuing my attitude, so to speak, as I continue, unknowingly, the similar attitude of those before me. I could write and write. All it takes is a motion of the hand in response to a brain impulse, trained from childhood to record in our own American brand of hieroglyphics the translations of external stimuli. How much of my brain is wilfully my own? How much is not a rubber stamp of what I have read and heard and lived? Sure, I make a sort of synthesis of what I come across, but that is all that differentiates me from another person? --- That I have banged into and assimilated various things? That my environment and a chance combination of genes for me where I am?” (p.47)

“There is a certain unique and strange delight about walking down an empty street alone. There is an off-focus light cast by the moon, and the streetlights are part of the spotlight apparatus on a bare stage set up for you to walk through. You get a feeling of being listened to, so you talk aloud, softly, to see how it sounds: …” (p. 54)

“...I am part man, and I notice women’s breasts and thighs with the calculation of a man choosing a mistress… but that is the artist and the analytical attitude toward the female body… for  I am more a woman; even as I long for full breasts and a beautiful body, so do I abhor the sensuousness which they bring…. I desire the things which will destroy me in the end…” (p.55)

“... and I am caught in musing -- how life is a swift motion, a continuous flowing, changing, and how one is always saying goodbye and going places, seeing people, doing things. Only in the rain and sometimes, only when the rain comes, closing in your pitifully small radius of activity, only when you sit and listen by the window as the cold we air blow thinly by the back of your neck - only then do you think and feel sick.” (p.63)

“The film of your days and nights is wound up right in you, never to be re-run -- and the occasional flashbacks are faint, blurred, unreal, as if seen through falling snow…” (p.63)

“Lying on my stomach on the flat warm rock, I let my arm hang over the side, and my hand caressed the rounded contours of the sun-hot stone, and felt the smooth undulations of it. Such a heat the rock had, suck a rugged and comfortable warmth, that I felt it could be a human body. Burning through the material of my bathing suit, the great heat radiated through my body, and my breast ached against the hard flat stone. A wind, salty and moist, blew damply in my hair; through a great glinting mass of it I could see the blue twinkle of the ocean. The sun seeped into every pore, satiating every querulous fiber of me into a great flowing golden peace. Stretching out on the rock, body taut, then relaxed, on the altar, I felt that I was being raped deliciously by the sun, filled full of heat from the impersonal and colossal god of nature. Warm and perverse was the body of my love under me, and the feeling of his carved flesh was like no other- not soft, not malleable, not wet with sweat, but dry, hard, smooth, cleansed, baptised, purified, and dried clean and crisp by the sun. Like seaweed, brittle, sharp, strong smelling - like stone, rounded, curved, oval clean - like wind, pungent salty - like all these was the body of my love. An orgiastic sacrifice on the altar of rock and sun, and I arose shining from the centuries of love, clean and satiated from the consuming fire of his casual and timeless desire.” (p.74)
“But I must discipline myself. I must be imaginative and create plots, knit motives, probe dialogue - rather  than merely trying to record descriptions and sensations. The latter is pointless, without purpose, unless it is later to be synthesized into a story. The latter is also rather pronounced symptom of an oversensitive and unproductive ego” (p. 77)

“Being born a woman is my awful tragedy. From the moment I was conceived I was doomed to sprout breasts and ovaries rather than penis and scrotum; the have my whole circle of action, thought, and feeling rigidly circumscribed  by my inescapable femininity. Yes, my consuming desire to mingle with road crews, sailors and soldiers, bar room regulars - to be part of a scene, anonymous, listening, recording - all is spoiled by the fact that I am a girl, a female always in danger of assault and battery. My consuming interest in men and their lives is often misconstrued as a desire to seduce them, or as invitation to intimacy. Yet, God, I want to talk to everybody I can as deeply as I can. I want to be able to sleep in an open field, the travel west, to walk freely at night.” (p. 77)

“There comes a time when all your outlets are blocked, as with wax. You sit in your room, feeling the prickling ache in your body which constricts your throat, tightens dangerously in little tear pockets behind your eyes. One word, one gesture, and all that is pent up in you -- festered resentments, gangrenous jealousies, superfluous desires - unfulfilled - all that would burst out of you in angry impotent tears- in embarrassed sobbing and blubbering to no one in particular. No arms will enfold you, no voice will say, “There, There. Sleep and forget.” No, in your new and horrible independence you feel the dangerous premonitory ache, arising from little sleep and taut strung nerves, and a feeling that the cards have been stacked high against you this once, and that they are still being heaped up. An outlet you need, and they are sealed. You live night and day in dark cramped prison you have made for yourself. And so on this day, you feel you will burst, break, if you cannot let the great reservoir seething in you loose, surging through some leak in the dike. So you go down stairs and sit at the piano. All the children are out; the house is quiet. A sounding of sharp chords on the keyboard, and you begin to feel the relief of loosing some of the great weight on your shoulders.” (p.85)

“Since my woman’s world is perceived greatly through the emotions and the senses, I treat it that way in my writing - and am often overweighted with heavy descriptive passages and a kaleidoscope of similes.” (p.88)

“... vacation - grinding through an icy, mud-grimy January-February-March, and tentatively, unbelievingly, unfolding into another spring, when the damn world makes us think we are young as we ever were and deceives us by pale lucid skies and the sudden opening of little leaves.
All this is a quick sketch of the scared naked fear and grief that congealed in me when I saw the vivid young living of my days boxed off and numbered in faceless white squares.” (p.93)

“I want to stay awake for the next three days and nights, drawing the threads of my summer cocoon neatly about me and snipping all the ends…” (p. 96)

(Taken from "the unabridged journals of Sylvia Plath")

No comments:

Post a Comment