Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath Scarce Signed Health Insurance Card




Sylvia Plath Scarce Signed Health Insurance Card

 

Mutual of Omaha membership card, 3.75" x 2.5'. Signed by Sylvia Plath with her married name of "Sylvia P. Hughes". Plath also hand writes her husband's name ''Edward J. Hughes'' and her address at 26 Elmwood Road in Wellesley. On the verso, in another hand, Plath's personal information is recorded, with her blood type, religion, and her emergency contact. Scarce.

 

Sylvia Plath was one of the most dynamic and admired poets of the 20th century. By the time she took her life at the age of 30, Plath already had a following in the literary community. In the ensuing years her work attracted the attention of a multitude of readers, who saw in her singular verse an attempt to catalogue despair, violent emotion, and obsession with death. In the  New York Times Book Review, Joyce Carol Oates described Plath as “one of the most celebrated and controversial of postwar poets writing in English.” Intensely autobiographical, Plath’s poems explore her own mental anguish, her troubled marriage to fellow poet Red Hughes, her unresolved conflicts with her parents, and her own vision of herself. On the World Socialist Web site, Margaret Rees observed, “Whether Plath wrote about nature, or about the social restrictions on individuals, she stripped away the polite veneer. She let her writing express elemental forces and primeval fears. In doing so, she laid bare the contradictions that tore apart appearance and hinted at some of the tensions hovering just beneath the surface of the American way of life in the post war period.” Oates put it more simply when she wrote that Plath’s best-known poems, “many of them written during the final, turbulent weeks of her life, read as if they’ve been chiseled, with a fine surgical instrument, out of arctic ice.”

 

In the  New York Times Book Review former American Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky declared,  “Thrashing, hyperactive, perpetually accelerated, the poems of Sylvia Plath catch the feeling of a profligate, hurt imagination, throwing off images and phrases with the energy of a runaway horse or a machine with its throttle stuck wide open. All the violence in her work returns to that violence of imagination, a frenzied brilliance and conviction.” 

 

It was during her undergraduate years that Plath began to suffer the symptoms of severe depression that would ultimately lead to her death. In one of her journal entries, dated June 20, 1958, she wrote: “It is as if my life were magically run by two electric currents: joyous positive and despairing negative—whichever is running at the moment dominates my life, floods it.” This is an eloquent description of bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, a very serious illness for which no genuinely effective medications were available during Plath’s lifetime. Having made a recovery, Plath returned to Smith for her degree. She earned a Fulbright grant to study at Cambridge University in England, and it was there that she met poet Ted Hughes. The two were married in 1956. 

 

Feminists portrayed Plath as a woman driven to madness by a domineering father, an unfaithful husband, and the demands that motherhood made on her genius. Some critics lauded her as a confessional poet whose work “spoke the hectic, uncontrolled things our conscience needed, or thought it needed,” to quote Donoghue. Largely on the strength of Ariel, Plath became one of the best-known female American poets of the 20th century.

 

Plath took her life at the age of 30 in 1963. This scarce signed Insurance card would have been post 1956, from during her marriage to Hughes.



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Sylvia Plath
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