In Memory of Sylvia Plath and her son, Nicholas Hughes

I was particularly moved by the news that Sylvia Plath’s son, Nicholas, took his life by hanging himself this past weekend at age forty-seven—forty-six years after his mother, Sylvia, took her life by sticking her head in the oven. There’s no doubt the most common prerequisite to suicide is depression. Sylvia and Nicholas both displayed this profile. Sylvia became depressed when her then husband, Ted Hughes, had an affair. Nicholas had just left his position as professor of fisheries and ocean science in Alaska due to depression and had begun a pottery career from home. Perhaps those closest to the victims were too close to identify the gravity of the situation and if they did, they did not know how to help or were too late.

My sympathy goes out to the Plath-Hughes family and all victims of suicide. Below is a poem Sylvia Plath wrote to Nick sometime during his first year of life. It brings tears to my eyes:

Nick and the Candlestick

I am a miner. The light burns blue.

Waxy stalactites

Drip and thicken, tears

The earthen womb

Exudes from its dead boredom.

Black bat airs

Wrap me, raggy shawls,

Cold homicides.

They weld to me like plums.

Old cave of calcium

Icicles, old echoer.

Even the newts are white,

Those holy Joes.

And the fish, the fish—-

Christ! They are panes of ice,

A vice of knives,

A piranha

Religion, drinking

Its first communion out of my live toes.

The candle

Gulps and recovers its small altitude,

Its yellows hearten.

O love, how did you get here?

O embryo

Remembering, even in sleep,

Your crossed position.

The blood blooms clean

In you, ruby.

The pain

You wake to is not yours.

Love, love,

I have hung our cave with roses.

With soft rugs—-

The last of Victoriana.

Let the stars

Plummet to their dark address,

Let the mercuric

Atoms that cripple drip

Into the terrible well,

You are the one

Solid the spaces lean on, envious.

You are the baby in the barn.

I was planning to write a column in honor of Women’s History Month when I learned about the suicide of Sylvia Plath’s son. This tragedy should not hinder celebrating the works of wonderful writers, but it does make one stop in one’s tracks and think about the genetic component of suicide.

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"A writer uses a journal to try out the new step in front of the mirror."

~Mary Gordon

About Me


I am a memoirist, essayist, poet and teacher whose passion is keeping a notebook. My notebook is my muse and my alter ego. It contains personal snippets of my life and observations from the world around me. Diarist Anaïs Nin has been a great source of inspiration for me. My hobbies include writing, writing and more writing, but when I have extra time, I enjoy reading, walking, hiking, yoga, working out, cooking and hanging out with my family and Maltese Poodle, Spunky. In order not to become ensconced by the glare of my computer screen, I also teach in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and in various conferences and festivals around the country. My pleasure comes from sharing my joy of journaling with professional writers and anyone interested in writing.

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