October 27, 2015
SYLVIA PLATH (1932–63) is alive. She is eighty-three years old in this 2015, a grandmotherly presence in contemporary poetry, who never became as famous as her husband Ted Hughes, who until a few years ago was still visiting colleges to tell young women what it was like in the fifties and sixties for white women, the piercing pressure of purity. They can hardly understand, these millennial nymphs, what a shocking splatter of anger her poems were in those grey decades, how she said, “Daddy, Daddy, you bastard, I’m through,” how she paraded her failed suicide attempts before us all as not her shame but ours, “There is a charge / For the eying of my scars, there is a charge / For the hearing of my heart — / It really goes,” how she knew the world wanted her dead, “The woman is perfected. / Her dead / Body wears the smile of accomplishment,” how she refused, refused, refused, and they try to understand, these girls, they try, how Sylvia Plath stayed alive, alive, alive.
On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Fran Lebowitz.
READ MORE about members of the Postmodernist Generation (1924-33).