26+ quotes from The Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath

Quotes from The Collected Poems

Sylvia Plath ·  349 pages

Rating: (28.8K votes)


“Eternity bores me,
I never wanted it.

From the poem "Years", 16 November 1962”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“I lean to you, numb as a fossil. Tell me I'm here.”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“I?
I walk alone;
The midnight street
Spins itself from under my feet;
My eyes shut
These dreaming houses all snuff out;
Through a whim of mine
Over gables the moon's celestial onion
Hangs high.

I
Make houses shrink
And trees diminish
By going far; my look's leash
Dangles the puppet-people
Who, unaware how they dwindle,
Laugh, kiss, get drunk,
Nor guess that if I choose to blink
They die.

I
When in good humour,
Give grass its green
Blazon sky blue, and endow the sun
With gold;
Yet, in my wintriest moods, I hold
Absolute power
To boycott color and forbid any flower
To be.

I
Know you appear
Vivid at my side,
Denying you sprang out of my head,
Claiming you feel
Love fiery enough to prove flesh real,
Though it's quite clear
All your beauty, all your wit, is a gift, my dear,
From me.

"Soliloquy of the Solipsist", 1956”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“What did my fingers do before they held him?
What did my heart do, with its love?

From " Three Women: A Poem for Three Voices", 1962”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“I am terrified by this dark thing that sleeps in me.”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“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.

From the poem "Elm", 19 April 1962”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“I Am Vertical

But I would rather be horizontal.
I am not a tree with my root in the soil
Sucking up minerals and motherly love
So that each March I may gleam into leaf,
Nor am I the beauty of a garden bed
Attracting my share of Ahs and spectacularly painted,
Unknowing I must soon unpetal.
Compared with me, a tree is immortal
And a flower-head not tall, but more startling,
And I want the one's longevity and the other's daring.

Tonight, in the infinitesimal light of the stars,
The trees and flowers have been strewing their cool odors.
I walk among them, but none of them are noticing.
Sometimes I think that when I am sleeping
I must most perfectly resemble them--
Thoughts gone dim.
It is more natural to me, lying down.
Then the sky and I are in open conversation,
And I shall be useful when I lie down finally:
The the trees may touch me for once, and the flowers have time for me.

"I Am Vertical", 28 March 1961”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“I am too pure for you or anyone.

From the poem "Fever 103°", 20 October 1962”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“Backward we traveled to reclaim the day
Before we fell, like Icarus, undone;
All we find are altars in decay
And profane words scrawled black across the sun.

--From the poem "Doom of the Exiles", written 16 April 1954”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful-
The eye of the little god, four cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“Elm

BY SYLVIA PLATH

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 your 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 gallop 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, this 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.”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“...we shall board our imagined ship and wildly sail among sacred islands of the mad till death shatters the fabulous stars and makes us real.”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“I hurl my heart to halt his pace.”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“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.

--From the poem "Elm", written 19 April 1962”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“Ash, ash —-
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there——

A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.

Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Beware
Beware.

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

--From the poem Lady Lazarus”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“Perfection is terrible, it cannot have children.”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“I am made, crudely, for success.”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“Although, I admit, I desire,
Occasionally, some backtalk
From the mute sky, I can't honestly complain:
A certain minor light may still
Lean incandescent

Out of kitchen table or chair
As if a celestial burning took
Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then -- ”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“Worse even
than your maddening
song, your silence." -”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“Wind warns November’s done with. The blown leaves make bat-shapes, Web-winged and furious.”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“In this particular tub, two knees jut up
like icebergs, while minute brown hairs rise
on arms and legs in a fringe of kelp; green soap
navigates the tidal slosh of seas
breaking on legendary beaches; in faith
we shall board our imagined ship and wildly sail
among sacred islands of the mad till death
shatters the fabulous stars and makes us real.”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“If you dissect a bird / to diagram the tongue, / you'll cut the chord / articulating song.”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“I'm collecting my strength; one day I shall manage without her, and she'll perish with emptiness then, and begin to miss me”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“Water will run by rule; the actual sun / Will scrupulously rise and set; / No little man lives in the exacting moon / And that is that, is that, is that.”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


“In the month of red leaves I climb to a bed of fire.”
― Sylvia Plath, quote from The Collected Poems


About the author

Sylvia Plath
Born place: in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, The United States
Born date October 27, 1932
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