Literary Tattoos: Sylvia Plath

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Sylvia Plath was an American novelist and poet who’s most notable works include her novel The Bell Jar and a collection of poems titled Ariel, both of which I highly recommend. She died in 1963 at the age of 30 by taking her own life.

I absolutely love Sylvia Plath’s work. I could probably talk about her and her writing all day long. Honestly, my friends get tired of how much I bring her up (I’m not sorry). I’ve read The Bell Jar several times, usually when I fall into a bit of a slump. It makes me feel better and I can’t pinpoint why. Maybe because I can relate to a lot of what she says? Who knows.

What I do know, however, is that Sylvia was an astounding writer and I think it goes without saying that she would have had created many more masterpieces had she lived a long life.

I thought it would be interesting if we went through some Sylvia Plath inspired tattoos, as I like her and I like tattoos. This will undoubtedly turn into another series, just with other writers every time. I like coming up with series, sue me. [shrugs]


The tattoos:

















This is the last verse in Sylvia’s poem Lady Lazarus.













This little cat is actually a drawing of Plath’s. Sylvia was known to doodle various things, but mostly flowers from what I’ve seen.

















This is from her poem titled “Elm.” I plan to get this quote tattooed in the next few months as well.



This too is from the poem Elm.



















I plan to get something along these lines tattooed as well. These are figs, as featured in an excerpt from The Bell Jar. Relatable much? Or is it just me?

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked.

One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out.

I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

















This flower doodle is the full version of Sylvia’s. The one two photos up is the same as well, just tweaked a bit. The quote itself is not one of Plath’s.













This little quote is from The Bell Jar once again.

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.”


















This is the same as the one above, just with the full quote. This word brag gets changed to bray quite often, though it doesn’t really matter which one you use.
















This tattoo is an excerpt from The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath.

“Let’s face it: I’m scared, scared and frozen. First, I guess I’m afraid for myself… the old primitive urge for survival. It’s getting so I live every moment with terrible intensity. It all flowed over me with a screaming ache of pain… remember, remember, this is now, and now, and now. Live it, feel it, cling to it. I want to become acutely aware of all I’ve taken for granted. When you feel that this may be good-bye, the last time, it hits you harder.”













While I’m not sure how I feel about the actual artwork depicting how Sylvia killed herself, I do like the quote that comes along with it. It’s from her poem Lady Lazarus.

“Dying Is an art, like everything else. I do it exceptionally well.”


Chat With Me!

Well, those are some of my favorite Sylvia Plath tattoos. Do you like Plath’s work? If so, let me know in the comments!

Also feel free to suggest writers you’d like to see in this series!



  1. C.M. Blackwood

    January 18, 2019 at 11:43 pm

    Someone recommended your post to me on Twitter, and just wanted to say how much I enjoyed it! I love Sylvia.

    1. Karley

      January 19, 2019 at 12:11 am

      Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Bailey

    January 19, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    I love this!! I’ve always wanted a book inspired tattoo but haven’t taken the plunge…mostly because needles freak me out lol! Out of these tattoos I think the first two are my favorite. This will be a great blog series! Curious to see which author you decide to feature next! 🙂

    1. Karley

      January 19, 2019 at 4:29 pm

      Honestly, you’re not even really aware of the needles. If you think of it more like a vibrating marker, it helps. 😛
      I want so many literary tattoos, I’ll probably end up looking like a newspaper, ahaha.
      Thank you so much! So glad you liked it. I’ve already got a few in the works so I’m excited. 🙂

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