The American poet Sylvia Platt never received the well-deserved recognition for her talent during her lifetime, but after her death all English and American publishing houses showed endless interest in her work, and the media made a sensation out of the dramatic finale of her life. All sorts of poets, publishers, relatives and friends lined up to talk and write about her (most often fictional or quite decorated free works) and so Sylvia's life became a real myth.


Many music artists have been inspired by her infinitely controversial life, worthy of a novel, as well as by poetry, which at times is more than shocking. Shortly after the 58th anniversary of her suicide, we introduce you to the most famous songs, inspired by the personality of the poet and her unique poetry.


# newsletter

# music

1. "Bell jar "-" The Bangles "/ Listen to youtube /

"The Bell Jar" is the title of Sylvia Platt's only novel, which today is almost autobiographical. It is like fiction and real biographical facts from her life are mixed very skillfully and it is not clear how much of what is written is true and how much is fiction. The pop-rock band The Bangles used the same title in one of their songs for the 1988 album Everything.


Written by drummer Debbi "Debbi" Mary Peterson and lead guitarist Vicki Peterson, the song strongly hints at Sylvia Platt's novel. In it, the main character Esther Greenwood tells about her encounter with the big city and the horrifying feeling that she is under a glass cover and can't breathe, which eventually takes her to a psychiatric clinic. The song depicts a similar life destiny - for a girl who is strongly alienated from her environment. And although the heroine herself chooses to live under the glass cover, she very quickly begins to suffocate and look for a way to get rid of it.

2. “Colossus"- Of Montreal / Listen to youtube /

The song was released in 2013 as part of the album "Lousy with Sylvianbriar". The indie rock band literally takes the title again from another book by Sylvia Platt - The Colossus, which is her only collection of poems published in her lifetime. The rest, unfortunately, reach readers posthumously. The book is entitled the poem of the same name, dealing with a wide variety of topics, among which the main character is the father of the poet, who died only when she was 8 years old. This sudden death marked her for a lifetime and the theme often appears in her work in one form or another.

The band's frontman Kevin Barnes shares about his special relationship with Sylvia Platt, and also that he read a lot of her poetry before making this recording. The song is not specifically dedicated to Sylvia's father, but relates largely to her family. And although the lyrics in some places even sound offensive, the group claims they have no intention of offending anyone.


3. “Crackle and drag "- Paul Westerberg / Listen to youtube /

With these words ends one of the last poems that Sylvia wrote before her death in 1963. Titled "Edge", the poem develops the theme of death, which has a central line in all her work, and seems to predict the impending fatal end of her life.

The song reflects the life of the poet and poetizes her suicide, presenting it as a beautiful act of saying goodbye to the world. The piece of music was composed especially for the soundtrack of the 2003 biopic "Sylvia" starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Daniel Craig, but was ultimately not included, from which the film only profits.


4. "Mad girl's love song “- Carol Anne McGowan / Listen to you tube /

Another title, taken directly from a poem by Sylvia Platt, with the difference that in this song the whole poetic text is taken literally. The poem is a favorite of the poet and was written in 1953, when she was still a student at Smith College. It was first published by the women's magazine Mademoiselle. The work reflects the feeling of unhappy love that the poet encountered as a young woman and later rediscovered as a married woman to the English poet Ted Hughes, who began to cheat on her. Some religious images also appear in the last stanzas.

The slow and distracted melody of the song enhances the feeling of doom in the lyrics and gives a special note of sinisterness.


5. "Mathematics" - Little Boots / Listen to youtube / 

The song was released in 2009 and was inspired by the poem "Love Is a Parallax". The poem relies on relativism and offers a different perspective on things in life. Similarly, in the song of English pop singer Victoria Hesket, known by the pseudonym "Little Boots", mathematics is a metaphor for love. Lyrical characters in it are the Italian mathematician Fibonacci and the philosopher Pythagoras, who used music as an important tool for organizing society. The song follows this line and seems to end Sylvia Platt's poem with the words, "Yet death knows neither death nor calculates the simple sum of a heart plus a heart."


6. "Hope is a dangerous thing “- Lana Del Ray / Listen to youtube /

It is not the first time that the American singer Lana del Rey has been influenced by the work of Sylvia Platt and she does not hide it. "Hope is a dangerous thing" was released in 2019 as part of the album "Norman Fucking Rockwell", and its original title was "Sylvia Platt", to which she is dedicated. The text addresses the topics of family, religion, complex romantic relationships, alcohol dependence and the burden of fame. The song is very different from the others dedicated to the poet, as it is much more personal. It is typical of the work of Lana, who always "confesses" in her songs. The singer's voice, combined with the gentle piano and the gloomy mood of the melody, creates a beautiful feeling of sinking into another world.

more to read

Spanish poetry: Jose Angel Valente

Spanish poetry: Jose Angel Valente

Jose Angel Valente is a poet, essayist and translator. He was born on April 25, 1929 in Ourense, Galicia. Jose Angel Valente is a poet, essayist and translator. He was born on April 25, 1929 in Ourense, Galicia. He studied law and Romance philology, taught Spanish philology in ...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This