Mad Girl’s Love Song

This poem popped into my head a few weeks ago. I was driving and all of a sudden I remembered how much I liked it and how much I like Sylvia Plath’s writing and poetry.

I originally wanted one of Plath’s poems read aloud during our wedding ceremony, but my dad and husband talked me out of it…guess the whole depression/suicide thing wasn’t a good fit for a wedding.

Mad Girl’s Love Song

by Sylvia Plath


I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;

I lift my lids and all is born again.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)


The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,

And arbitrary blackness gallops in:

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.


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.)


God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:

Exit seraphim and Satan’s men:

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.


I fancied you’d return the way you said,

But I grow old and I forget your name.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)


I should have loved a thunderbird instead;

At least when spring comes they roar back again.

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)


It’s probably not the most uplifting of poems, but I like it.Sylvia_plath

I think part of why I was initially drawn to Sylvia Plath is because of my own depression. It crept up on my slowly and was at its height when I was a sophomore in college. I don’t think I had read this poem yet, though. I think I only knew of Sylvia Plath through the movie with Gwenyth Paltrow…so, not much. If I remember correctly, it was around three years later that I found this poem when I was reading The Bell Jar.

The novel really struck me – having been through such an emotional upheaval a few years prior – reading Plath’s (essentially) memoir made me feel both sad and amazed.

Sad because I am sad whenever I find out about someone who has suffered depression and not recovered, for whatever reason. I needed to go on an antidepressant in order to feel normal again. It took awhile to come that to that decision, and it took a few weeks to start to feel the affect, but then the weight that was suffocating me lifted.

So even though Plath suffered such darkness during a time when nobody knew quite what to do with someone who was depressed, even though there may not have been an answer – it makes me very sad that she was alone in this. And that ultimately it ended with her suicide.

The Bell Jar also amazes because Plath was such a gifted writer. And so sassy for her time:

“That’s one of the reasons I never wanted to get married. The last thing I wanted was infinite security and to be the place an arrow shoots off from. I wanted change and excitement and to shoot off in all directions myself, like the colored arrows from a Fourth of July rocket.”

“So I began to think maybe it was true that when you were married and had children it was like being brainwashed, and afterward you went about as numb as a slave in a totalitarian state.”

“I didn’t know shorthand either. This meant I couldn’t get a good job after college. My mother kept telling me nobody wanted a plain English major. But an English major who knew shorthand would be something else again. Everybody would want her. She would be in demand among all the up-and-coming young men and she would transcribe letter after thrilling letter. The trouble was, I hated the idea of serving men in any way. I wanted to dictate my own thrilling letters.”

“I was my own woman. The next step was to find the proper sort of man.”

“These girls looked awfully bored to me. I saw them on the sunroof, yawning and painting their nails and trying to keep up their Bermuda tans, and they seemed bored as hell. I talked with one of them, and she was bored with yachts and bored with flying around in airplanes and bored with skiing in Switzerland at Christmas and bored with the men in Brazil.”

belljarBut oh man, some (okay – a lot) of her writing was downright sad. She knew precisely how to describe what it feels like to be depressed. These are from The Bell Jar:

“Everything people did seemed so silly, because they only died in the end.”

“I buried my head under the darkness of the pillow and pretended it was night. I couldn’t see the point of getting up. I had nothing to look forward to.”

“If you expect nothing from somebody you are never disappointed.”

“I felt very still and empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo.”

So maybe not the best source for a wedding reading, but still love Plath anyway. I have a book of her poetry that I’ve read bits of here and there. I think it may be time to pick it up again.


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