Sylvia Plath’s First Tragedy


I don’t know whether it is a hereditary characteristic, but our little family is altogether too prone to lie awake at nights hating ourselves for stupidities—technical or verbal or whatever—and to let careless, cruel remarks fester until they blossom in something like ulcer attacks—I know that during these last days I’ve been fighting an enormous battle with myself.

Brain Pickings dives into Sylvia Plath’s teenage years in her Letters Home, finding the poet’s first “tragic” poem, “I Thought That I Could Not be Hurt,” resulting from an incident involving a ruined pastel drawing. In Plath’s early letters and journals, we find the first shadows of depression creeping on the young poet, and her feelings on them.

Kyle Williams is a student at Brooklyn College, studying creative writing and literature. You can find more from him on Tumblr at, but don't feel like you have to. More from this author →