Plath, Sylvia

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: Jun-14-1996


The insomniac looks at the sky ("a sort of carbon paper") and "suffers his desert pillow." Projected in front of him are his life's embarrassments and bad memories. "He is immune to pills." He listens all night to "invisible cats . . . / howling like women." The sun rises, the city awakes, and people everywhere "Are riding to work in rows, as if recently brainwashed."


The experience of chronic insomnia, probably well-known to Sylvia Plath. She incorporates many striking images in this essentially descriptive poem. For a more dynamic and creative approach to the experience of insomnia, see Edward Hirsch's I Need Help (entry in this database).

Primary Source

Crossing the Water


Harper & Row

Place Published

New York