Sylvia Plath is known mostly for her poetry and prose, but arguably the same degree of violent, exuberant feeling may be found in her sketch work, now published in a volume entitled Sylvia Plath: Drawings. Edited by the poet’s own daughter Frieda Hughes, the text cradles her pen-and-ink drawings with diary entries and letters.
Plath created the illustrations at Cambridge, and used studied art as a way of coping with and cataloguing her experience. In a letter, she writes her mother “I’ve discovered my deepest source of inspiration, which is art […I ] am overflowing with ideas and inspirations, as I’ve been bottling up a geyser for a year.”
In the images, we see what critic Charles Newman sees in her poetry. He writes, the “tension between the perceiver and the thing-in-itself by literally becoming the thing-in-itself;” indeed, in her art is is enmeshed and closely bound with her subject. Of her cow drawings she writes to her husband Ted Hughes, “I got a kind of peace from the cows; what a curious broody looks they gave me; what marvelous colossal shits and pissings.” Hughes himself once described her emotionality and closeness with nature: “Her reactions to the smallest desecrations, even in plants, were ‘extremely violent.’”
Take a look at her drawings. You might just find yourself coasting alone the contours of the thistles as she once did: “I can close myself completely in the line, lose myself in it. . . .”