Sylvia Plath, poet and novelist, died by her own hand fifty years and one week ago today. She left behind two small children and a husband, Ted Hughes, who would later become the Poet Laureate of Great Britain. Plath was a troubled soul and her work often focused on death. She did not believe in an afterlife, per se, but did consider that immortality might be reached to some extent by what one creates, both through material accomplishments as well as off-spring. And by that measure, she achieved immortality whether her soul reached an eternal state in the great beyond or not.
Plath's last poem, Edge, was written just days before her death. It was centered on death and had her ever-present hints of suicide. The poem she wrote a few days before that, however, was a bit cheerier. In that poem, Balloons, she talked about the children's balloons left over from the holidays.
Please enjoy Sylvia Plath's next-to-last poem, Balloons, and if you've not read her classic work, The Bell Jar, which is also deals with suicide - get thee to a library and check it out. Plath was a wonderful writer and poet who sadly lost her long battle with depression.
by Sylvia Plath
Since Christmas they have lived with us,
Guileless and clear,
Taking up half the space,
Moving and rubbing on the silk
Invisible air drifts,
Giving a shriek and pop
When attacked, then scooting to rest, barely trembling.
Yellow cathead, blue fish--------
Such queer moons we live with
Instead of dead furniture!
Straw mats, white walls
And these traveling
Globes of thin air, red, green,
The heart like wishes or free
Old ground with a feather
Beaten in starry metals.
Brother is making
His balloon squeak like a cat.
Seeming to see
A funny pink world he might eat on the other side of it,
Back, fat jug
Contemplating a world clear as water.
Shred in his little fist.