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Best Famous Sylvia Plath Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Sylvia Plath poems. This is a select list of the best famous Sylvia Plath poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Sylvia Plath poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Sylvia Plath poems.

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by Sylvia Plath | |

Winter Trees

The wet dawn inks are doing their blue dissolve.
On their blotter of fog the trees Seem a botanical drawing-- Memories growning, ring on ring, A series of weddings.
Knowing neither abortions nor bitchery, Truer than women, They seed so effortlessly! Tasting the winds, that are footless, Waisting-deep in history-- Full of wings, otherworldliness.
In this, they are Ledas.
O mother of leaves and sweetness Who are these peitas? The shadows of ringdoves chanting, but easing nothing.
note: 12 Ledas: Leda, the maiden who was raped by Zeus in the guise of a swan.


by Sylvia Plath | |

Morning Song

Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry Took its place among the elements.
Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival.
New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness Shadows our safety.
We stand round blankly as walls.
I'm no more your mother Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow Effacement at the wind's hand.
All night your moth-breath Flickers among the flat pink roses.
I wake to listen: A far sea moves in my ear.
One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral In my Victorian nightgown.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat's.
The window square Whitens and swallows its dull stars.
And now you try Your handful of notes; The clear vowels rise like balloons.
(1961)


by Sylvia Plath | |

Words

Axes 
After whose stroke the wood rings, 
And the echoes! 
Echoes traveling 
Off from the center like horses.
The sap Wells like tears, like the Water striving To re-establish its mirror Over the rock That drops and turns, A white skull, Eaten by weedy greens.
Years later I Encounter them on the road--- Words dry and riderless, The indefatigable hoof-taps.
While From the bottom of the pool, fixed stars Govern a life.


More great poems below...

by Sylvia Plath | |

Event

How the elements solidify! ---
The moonlight, that chalk cliff
In whose rift we lie

Back to back.
I here an owl cry From its cold indigo.
Intolerable vowels enter my heart.
The child in the white crib revolves and sighs, Opens its mouth now, demanding.
His little face is carved in pained, red wood.
Then there are the stars - ineradicable, hard.
One touch : it burns and sickens.
I cannot see your eyes.
Where apple bloom ices the night I walk in a ring, A groove of old faults, deep and bitter.
Love cannot come here.
A black gap discloses itself.
On the opposite lip A small white soul is waving, a small white maggot.
My limbs, also, have left me.
Who has dismembered us? The dark is melting.
We touch like cripples.


by Sylvia Plath | |

Crossing the Water

Black lake, black boat, two black, cut-paper people.
Where do the black trees go that drink here? Their shadows must cover Canada.
A little light is filtering from the water flowers.
Their leaves do not wish us to hurry: They are round and flat and full of dark advice.
Cold worlds shake from the oar.
The spirit of blackness is in us, it is in the fishes.
A snag is lifting a valedictory, pale hand; Stars open among the lilies.
Are you not blinded by such expressionless sirens? This is the silence of astounded souls.


by Sylvia Plath | |

The Rival

If the moon smiled, she would resemble you.
You leave the same impression Of something beautiful, but annihilating.
Both of you are great light borrowers.
Her O-mouth grieves at the world; yours is unaffected, And your first gift is making stone out of everything.
I wake to a mausoleum; you are here, Ticking your fingers on the marble table, looking for cigarettes, Spiteful as a woman, but not so nervous, And dying to say something unanswerable.
The moon, too, abases her subjects But in the daytime she is ridiculous.
Your dissatisfactions, on the other hand, Arrive through the mailslot with loving regularity, White and blank, expansive as carbon monoxide.
No day is safe from news of you, Walking about in Africa maybe, but thinking of me.


by Sylvia Plath | |

The Arrival of the Bee Box

I ordered this, clean wood box 
Square as a chair and almost too heavy to lift.
I would say it was the coffin of a midget Or a square baby Were there not such a din in it.
The box is locked, it is dangerous.
I have to live with it overnight And I can't keep away from it.
There are no windows, so I can't see what is in there.
There is only a little grid, no exit.
I put my eye to the grid.
It is dark, dark, With the swarmy feeling of African hands Minute and shrunk for export, Black on black, angrily clambering.
How can I let them out? It is the noise that appalls me most of all, The unintelligible syllables.
It is like a Roman mob, Small, taken one by one, but my god, together! I lay my ear to furious Latin.
I am not a Caesar.
I have simply ordered a box of maniacs.
They can be sent back.
They can die, I need feed them nothing, I am the owner.
I wonder how hungry they are.
I wonder if they would forget me If I just undid the locks and stood back and turned into a tree.
There is the laburnum, its blond colonnades, And the petticoats of the cherry.
They might ignore me immediately In my moon suit and funeral veil.
I am no source of honey So why should they turn on me? Tomorrow I will be sweet God, I will set them free.
The box is only temporary.


by Sylvia Plath | |

Elm

for Ruth Fainlight


I know the bottom, she says.
I know it with my great tap root; It is what you fear.
I do not fear it: I have been there.
Is it the sea you hear in me, Its dissatisfactions? Or the voice of nothing, that was you madness? Love is a shadow.
How you lie and cry after it.
Listen: these are its hooves: it has gone off, like a horse.
All night I shall gallup thus, impetuously, Till your head is a stone, your pillow a little turf, Echoing, echoing.
Or shall I bring you the sound of poisons? This is rain now, the big hush.
And this is the fruit of it: tin white, like arsenic.
I have suffered the atrocity of sunsets.
Scorched to the root My red filaments burn and stand,a hand of wires.
Now I break up in pieces that fly about like clubs.
A wind of such violence Will tolerate no bystanding: I must shriek.
The moon, also, is merciless: she would drag me Cruelly, being barren.
Her radiance scathes me.
Or perhaps I have caught her.
I let her go.
I let her go Diminished and flat, as after radical surgery.
How your bad dreams possess and endow me.
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.
Clouds pass and disperse.
Are those the faces of love, those pale irretrievables? Is it for such I agitate my heart? I am incapable of more knowledge.
What is this, this face So murderous in its strangle of branches? ---- Its snaky acids kiss.
It petrifies the will.
These are the isolate, slow faults That kill, that kill, that kill.


by Sylvia Plath | |

Ariel

Stasis in darkness.
Then the substanceless blue Pour of tor and distances.
God's lioness, How one we grow, Pivot of heels and knees! ---The furrow Splits and passes, sister to The brown arc Of the neck I cannot catch, Nigger-eye Berries cast dark Hooks --- Black sweet blood mouthfuls, Shadows.
Something else Hauls me through air --- Thighs, hair; Flakes from my heels.
White Godiva, I unpeel --- Dead hands, dead stringencies.
And now I Foam to wheat, a glitter of seas.
The child's cry Melts in the wall.
And I Am the arrow, The dew that flies, Suicidal, at one with the drive Into the red Eye, the cauldron of morning.


by Anne Sexton | |

Sylvias Death

 for Sylvia Plath
O Sylvia, Sylvia, 
with a dead box of stones and spoons, 
with two children, two meteors 
wandering loose in a tiny playroom, 
with your mouth into the sheet, 
into the roofbeam, into the dumb prayer, 
(Sylvia, Sylvia 
where did you go 
after you wrote me 
from Devonshire 
about rasing potatoes 
and keeping bees?) 
what did you stand by, 
just how did you lie down into? 
Thief -- 
how did you crawl into, 
crawl down alone 
into the death I wanted so badly and for so long, 
the death we said we both outgrew, 
the one we wore on our skinny breasts, 
the one we talked of so often each time 
we downed three extra dry martinis in Boston, 
the death that talked of analysts and cures, 
the death that talked like brides with plots, 
the death we drank to, 
the motives and the quiet deed? 
(In Boston 
the dying 
ride in cabs, 
yes death again, 
that ride home 
with our boy.
) O Sylvia, I remember the sleepy drummer who beat on our eyes with an old story, how we wanted to let him come like a sadist or a New York fairy to do his job, a necessity, a window in a wall or a crib, and since that time he waited under our heart, our cupboard, and I see now that we store him up year after year, old suicides and I know at the news of your death a terrible taste for it, like salt, (And me, me too.
And now, Sylvia, you again with death again, that ride home with our boy.
) And I say only with my arms stretched out into that stone place, what is your death but an old belonging, a mole that fell out of one of your poems? (O friend, while the moon's bad, and the king's gone, and the queen's at her wit's end the bar fly ought to sing!) O tiny mother, you too! O funny duchess! O blonde thing!


by John Berryman | |

Dream Song 172: Your face broods

 Your face broods from my table, Suicide.
Your force came on like a torrent toward the end of agony and wrath.
You were christened in the beginning Sylvia Plath and changed that name for Mrs Hughes and bred and went on round the bend till the oven seemed the proper place for you.
I brood upon your face, the geography of grief, hooded, till I allow again your resignation from us now though the screams of orphaned children fix me anew.
Your torment here was brief, long falls your exit all repeatingly, a poor exemplum, one more suicide, to stack upon the others till stricken Henry with his sisters & brothers suddenly gone pauses to wonder why he alone breasts the wronging tide.


by Sylvia Plath | |

On Looking Into The Eyes Of A Demon Lover

 Here are two pupils
whose moons of black
transform to cripples
all who look:

each lovely lady
who peers inside
take on the body
of a toad.
Within these mirrors the world inverts: the fond admirer's burning darts turn back to injure the thrusting hand and inflame to danger the scarlet wound.
I sought my image in the scorching glass, for what fire could damage a witch's face? So I stared in that furnace where beauties char but found radiant Venus reflected there.


by Sylvia Plath | |

Jilted

 My thoughts are crabbed and sallow,
My tears like vinegar,
Or the bitter blinking yellow
Of an acetic star.
Tonight the caustic wind, love, Gossips late and soon, And I wear the wry-faced pucker of The sour lemon moon.
While like an early summer plum, Puny, green, and tart, Droops upon its wizened stem My lean, unripened heart.


by Sylvia Plath | |

Strumpet Song

 With white frost gone
And all green dreams not worth much,
After a lean day's work
Time comes round for that foul slut:
Mere bruit of her takes our street
Until every man,
Red, pale or dark,
Veers to her slouch.
Mark, I cry, that mouth Made to do violence on, That seamed face Askew with blotch, dint, scar Struck by each dour year.
Walks there not some such one man As can spare breath To patch with brand of love this rank grimace Which out from black tarn, ditch and cup Into my most chaste own eyes Looks up.


by Sylvia Plath | |

Marys Song

 The Sunday lamb cracks in its fat.
The fat Sacrifices its opacity.
.
.
.
A window, holy gold.
The fire makes it precious, The same fire Melting the tallow heretics, Ousting the Jews.
Their thick palls float Over the cicatrix of Poland, burnt-out Germany.
They do not die.
Grey birds obsess my heart, Mouth-ash, ash of eye.
They settle.
On the high Precipice That emptied one man into space The ovens glowed like heavens, incandescent.
It is a heart, This holocaust I walk in, O golden child the world will kill and eat.


by Sylvia Plath | |

Stillborn

 These poems do not live: it's a sad diagnosis.
They grew their toes and fingers well enough, Their little foreheads bulged with concentration.
If they missed out on walking about like people It wasn't for any lack of mother-love.
O I cannot explain what happened to them! They are proper in shape and number and every part.
They sit so nicely in the pickling fluid! They smile and smile and smile at me.
And still the lungs won't fill and the heart won't start.
They are not pigs, they are not even fish, Though they have a piggy and a fishy air -- It would be better if they were alive, and that's what they were.
But they are dead, and their mother near dead with distraction, And they stupidly stare and do not speak of her.


by Sylvia Plath | |

Faun

 Haunched like a faun, he hooed
From grove of moon-glint and fen-frost
Until all owls in the twigged forest
Flapped black to look and brood
On the call this man made.
No sound but a drunken coot Lurching home along river bank.
Stars hung water-sunk, so a rank Of double star-eyes lit Boughs where those owls sat.
An arena of yellow eyes Watched the changing shape he cut, Saw hoof harden from foot, saw sprout Goat-horns.
Marked how god rose And galloped woodward in that guise.


by Sylvia Plath | |

The Other

 Under my bowels, yellow with smoke,
it waits.
Under my eyes, those milk bunnies, it waits.
It is waiting.
It is waiting.
Mr.
Doppelganger.
My brother.
My spouse.
Mr.
Doppelganger.
My enemy.
My lover.
When truth comes spilling out like peas it hangs up the phone.
When the child is soothed and resting on the breast it is my other who swallows Lysol.
When someone kisses someone or flushes the toilet it is my other who sits in a ball and cries.
My other beats a tin drum in my heart.
My other hangs up laundry as I try to sleep.
My other cries and cries and cries when I put on a cocktail dress.
It cries when I prick a potato.
It cries when I kiss someone hello.
It cries and cries and cries until I put on a painted mask and leer at Jesus in His passion.
Then it giggles.
It is a thumbscrew.
Its hatred makes it clairvoyant.
I can only sign over everything, the house, the dog, the ladders, the jewels, the soul, the family tree, the mailbox.
Then I can sleep.
Maybe.


by Sylvia Plath | |

Full Fathom Five

 Full fathom five thy father lies; 
Of his bones are coral made; 
Those are pearls that were his eyes: 
Nothing of him that doth fade 
But doth suffer a sea-change 
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell: Ding-dong.
Hark! now I hear them,--ding-dong, bell.


by Sylvia Plath | |

Winter Landscape With Rooks

 Water in the millrace, through a sluice of stone,
 plunges headlong into that black pond
where, absurd and out-of-season, a single swan
 floats chaste as snow, taunting the clouded mind
which hungers to haul the white reflection down.
The austere sun descends above the fen, an orange cyclops-eye, scorning to look longer on this landscape of chagrin; feathered dark in thought, I stalk like a rook, brooding as the winter night comes on.
Last summer's reeds are all engraved in ice as is your image in my eye; dry frost glazes the window of my hurt; what solace can be struck from rock to make heart's waste grow green again? Who'd walk in this bleak place?


by Sylvia Plath | |

Kindness

 Kindness glides about my house.
Dame Kindness, she is so nice! The blue and red jewels of her rings smoke In the windows, the mirrors Are filling with smiles.
What is so real as the cry of a child? A rabbit's cry may be wilder But it has no soul.
Sugar can cure everything, so Kindness says.
Sugar is a necessary fluid, Its crystals a little poultice.
O kindness, kindness Sweetly picking up pieces! My Japanese silks, desperate butterflies, May be pinned any minute, anesthetized.
And here you come, with a cup of tea Wreathed in steam.
The blood jet is poetry, There is no stopping it.
You hand me two children, two roses.


by Sylvia Plath | |

Metaphors

 I'm a riddle in nine syllables,
An elephant, a ponderous house,
A melon strolling on two tendrils.
O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers! This loaf's big with its yeasty rising.
Money's new-minted in this fat purse.
I'm a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
I've eaten a bag of green apples, Boarded the train there's no getting off.


by Sylvia Plath | |

Mushrooms

 Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.
Nobody sees us, Stops us, betrays us; The small grains make room.
Soft fists insist on Heaving the needles, The leafy bedding, Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams, Earless and eyeless, Perfectly voiceless, Widen the crannies, Shoulder through holes.
We Diet on water, On crumbs of shadow, Bland-mannered, asking Little or nothing.
So many of us! So many of us! We are shelves, we are Tables, we are meek, We are edible, Nudgers and shovers In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies: We shall by morning Inherit the earth.
Our foot's in the door.


by Sylvia Plath | |

Resolve

 Day of mist: day of tarnish

with hands
unserviceable, I wait
for the milk van

the one-eared cat
laps its gray paw

and the coal fire burns

outside, the little hedge leaves are
become quite yellow
a milk-film blurs
the empty bottles on the windowsill

no glory descends

two water drops poise
on the arched green
stem of my neighbor's rose bush

o bent bow of thorns

the cat unsheathes its claws
the world turns

today
today I will not
disenchant my twelve black-gowned examiners
or bunch my fist
in the wind's sneer.


by Sylvia Plath | |

The Queens Complaint

 In ruck and quibble of courtfolk
This giant hulked, I tell you, on her scene
With hands like derricks,
Looks fierce and black as rooks;
Why, all the windows broke when he stalked in.
Her dainty acres he ramped through And used her gentle doves with manners rude; I do not know What fury urged him slay Her antelope who meant him naught but good.
She spoke most chiding in his ear Till he some pity took upon her crying; Of rich attire He made her shoulders bare And solaced her, but quit her at cock's crowing.
A hundred heralds she sent out To summon in her slight all doughty men Whose force might fit Shape of her sleep, her thought- None of that greenhorn lot matched her bright crown.
So she is come to this rare pass Whereby she treks in blood through sun and squall And sings you thus : 'How sad, alas, it is To see my people shrunk so small, so small.
'