Published:  12:56 AM, 13 July 2017

Tales of two heartbroken rhapsodists


American poet Sylvia Plath was born on 27th October, 1932 in Boston, Massachusetts. Sylvia Plath was an outstanding and at the same time, a mentally hazarded poet, best-known for the confessional mode of her poems. While she was a student, Sylvia Plath lived in New York during 1953 working for a magazine called Mademoiselle as a part-time editor.



Having been affected with psychological disorder since her earlier age, Sylvia Plath attempted to kill herself by ingesting an overdose of sleeping pills. According to some biographers, defiance and lack of affection from her father instigated her to do this. However, she recovered for the time being and received mental treatment in a sanatorium for around a year.

Sylvia Plath arrived at Cambridge University in England with a Fulbright Scholarship in 1955. While pursuing her studies at the university, she met the British Poet Laureate Ted Hughes and soon they fell in love with one another. They got married in 1956 but their romance was allegedly eclipsed by Ted Hughes's extramarital affair with another woman which is one of the most underlined reasons behind Sylvia Plath's mental consternation.

A burgeoning American poet, Sylvia Plath got her first anthology of verses, The Colossus, published in England in 1960. In the same year, she gave birth to her first child, a daughter named Freida. Two years later, she and Hughes had a second child, a son named Nicholas. But even after having kids, their marital bond was getting worse. A few lines from Sylvia Plath's poem ''Edge'' show her psychological turbulence and her obsessive thoughts about death:

   The woman is perfected.   
   Her dead body wears the smile of accomplishment,   
   The illusion of a Greek necessity
   Flows in the scrolls of her toga,   
   Her bare feet seem to be saying:
   We have come so far, it is over.
 
After Ted Hughes dumped her to move away with another woman in 1962, Sylvia Plath got into a spell of incurable depression. Tussling with her mental ailments, she wrote The Bell Jar (1963), her only novel, which she wrote on the basis of her own life and it portrays one young woman's mental cataclysms. Sylvia Plath published the novel using the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. She also wrote the poignant poems that would generate the collection Ariel (1965), which was published after her death. Sylvia Plath committed suicide on 11th February 1963. She became the first individual to win a Pulitzer Prize posthumously in 1982.

Anne Sexton is another female American poet, noted for her deeply personal and confessional poems and she also eventually resorted to suicide to terminate her life. She was awarded Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967. Themes of her poetry envisage her self-annihilating propensities, long struggle with depressive sickness, her grievances about life and some more private debacles.

Anne Sexton was born in Newton, Massachusetts in 1928 and led most of her life around Boston. She developed an amorous relationship with a man called Alfred Muller Sexton and tied the knot with him in 1948. Before Anne Sexton broke off with Alfred Muller Sexton in the early 1970s, she had two children--Linda Gray Sexton and Joyce Sexton.
Anne Sexton suffered from exasperating psychological maladies for much of her life. She came across Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath and George Starbuck at Boston University while she was attending classes there. Like Sylvia Plath, her poems also illustrate her disordered mental state. Let's read a few lines from one of her poems which are closely typical of her ominous engrossment with death:

Even then I have nothing against life.
I know well the grass blades you mention,
the furniture you have placed under the sun.
But suicides have a special language.
Like carpenters they want to know which tools.
They never ask why build. (''Wanting to Die'')

As time went on, loneliness and haunting remembrances usurped Anne Sexton's thoughts. She could no longer stand her agonies and killed herself on 4th October 1974 through asphyxiation. Suicide cannot reverse tough times. All pessimist litterateurs don't annihilate themselves. However, it's shockingly true that, the poets named and addressed above became disenchanted with the world around them following various failures in personal lives, both deciphered and unexplored, but perhaps they could have made further contributions to the arena of poetry if they did not commit suicide.

Both Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton are vital figures in confessional poetry in the history of American literature. Poems by Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton are still perused, elaborated and taught in lots of universities worldwide. All discussions about modern and postmodern poetry make it obligatory to recall the reflective, thoughtful and introspective verses written by Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton. Their poems, in most of the cases, illustrated their sufferings, deprivations and grievances which blighted their lives with agonies and disappointment and compelled them to commit suicide.  


The writer is a literary analyst for The Asian Age

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