Your Own, Sylvia
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On a bleak February day in 1963 a young American poet died by her own hand, and passed into a myth that has since imprinted itself on the hearts and minds of millions. She was and is Sylvia Plath and Your Own, Sylvia is a portrait of her life, told in poems.
With photos and an extensive list of facts and sources to round out the reading experience, Your Own, Sylvia is a great curriculum companion to Plath's The Bell Jar and Ariel, a welcoming introduction for newcomers, and an unflinching valentine for the devoted.
Sylvia struggled with not only in November 1962 but also back in 1953. For example: The voice of the woman hollows— More and more like a dead one, Aid Olive Higgins Prouty August 27-28, 1953 Read in paper about Sylvia, stop. I offer her assistance, stop. No worries about money, I’ll finance her recovery, stop. Broke down once myself, stop. Understand how low one drops. Have great doctors to recommend. Syl will be stitched up, will mend. She will never do this again, stop. Olive Higgins
hated living in London, I only hated living there with her. A crevasse of hurt runs across her cheek, but she puckers up, contents herself by hurtling through the locomotive’s glass, “Let’s divorce.” I toss my bags under the seat as she yells, “Bastard,” at me. The train chugs slowly down the tracks. Her bitter tongue does not penetrate the window, merely smudges it with spittle I can turn away from. I can ignore. In November 1961 Sylvia was awarded a Eugene Saxton Grant of $2,000 to write
at a time. Inside the flat, we rush to turn off the gas, Mrs. Hughes’s head inside the oven like another awful fairy tale, the one where the witch dies inside the stove. We pull her into the front room and I push on her heart, blow all my breath into her mouth, but she’s stiff-limbed, pale purple, without pulse, without air. Mr. Langridge rescues the children from their frozen beds, swaddles them in blankets, and carries them from the flat. One match and the whole building could have gone up
parents, a local churchgoer named Joan, Ted, Warren, and me. You’d think Sylvia was a social recluse, all those guests she welcomed to her home, all those men who published her work missing like pages torn from a journal. Ted’s sister is down with the flu, Frieda and Nicholas are too young for this horror, and Aurelia hasn’t the strength to fly. The rector’s spectacles glare. No friend to Sylvia or Ted, he reads scripture about lilies and valleys. I clutch Warren’s arm. I did not get to know
advertised for a mother’s helper in the Christian Science Monitor. Sylvia worked for them for six weeks. She was included as part of the family. In her journals she writes, “… Life: full, rich, long, part of the family, growing to know them and their quietnesses, their laughters, their convictions, and always subtly probing, questioning, the core—Christian Science.”—July 25, 1952. Proud Olive Higgins Prouty, Sylvia’s benefactor October 1952 My dear Sylvia, little wunderkind, what a lovely