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How Sylvia Plath’s profound nature poetry elevates her writing beyond tragedy and despair

I cannot stop poems! … They come from the vocabulary of woods and animals and earth. From a letter from Sylvia Plath to her mother, 1956 Popular perceptions of Sylvia Plath tend to dwell on a deeply troubled version of the young poet due to her well-documented difficulties with depression and the morbid imagery found in some of her poetry. So the idea that nature inspired her writing may come as a surprise. Sylvia Plath is in her twenties. This despairing Plath is a far cry from the poet I have come to know and admire – a poet who writes the simple beauty of meadows and the tenacity of fungi as well as the splendors of rugged wilderness. Plath's fascination with the natural world began in childhood, as she makes clear in her essay Ocean 1212-W, in which she details the importance of the sea to her poetic imagination. This interest in nature continued into adulthood when she read the work of biologists such as Rachel Carson, whom she writes about in her letters. Any other poet with this background would at least be credited with a passing interest in the natural world. However, Plath's untimely death by suicide has skewed much interpretation of her poetry. […] Elena Nikolaeva / Alamy Nassim Jalali does not work for, consult, own shares in, or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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