One of literature’s most famous couples, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, is still creating news. A little over a month ago, new letters were released that claimed Hughes beat Plath two days before she miscarried and now new work and photos from both poets have been unearthed. Two academics, Gail Crowther and Peter K. Steinberg, were researching for a new book about Sylvia Plath with a focus on unpublished work when they found unseen photos and poems of the ex-lovers.
Image courtesy of The Lilly Library
Plath scholars had a gut-feeling that there was more work by the two authors out there, which inspired the research and work for their new book, These Ghostly Archives: The Unearthing of Sylvia Plath. Using photoshop to transcribe a carbon paper found in the back of one of Path’s old notebooks, Steinberg found the words of two poems with a watermark of a woman gazing at her own reflection in a pool of water.
The first poem “To a Refractory Santa Claus” is said to contain breathtaking imagery about the brutality of English winters and detail Plath’s longing for warmer weather. “Megrims”, the second poem, is a monologue addressed to a doctor by a paranoid speaker about weird occurrences in her life. Steinberg claimed that “there is a kind of loose, almost slangy-casual language in Megrims that took years for Plath to finesse in her Ariel voice.”
More worthwhile writing from one of the most noteworthy poets is certainly exciting news but we’ll have to wait until the book is published before having a chance to read the works.
A heap of poems believed to be meant for Hughes’ final collection Birthday Letters lays bare his personal turmoil following his first wife’s suicide. Birthday Letters deals mainly with his turbulent relationship with the female poet and the effect her death had on his life. The poems delve into Hughes’ tormenting guilt about Plath’s isolation and inability to contact him on her final night. This hints that Plath may have tried to speak to her ex-husband before she committed suicide or left him a personal suicide note.
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Interest in the couple still captivates audiences. A 2018 adaptation for Plath’s only novel The Bell Jar is in the works and a new book of Plath’s letters will be released later this year. Crowther and Steinberg believe they can find even more unpublished writing to continue uncovering more of the couple’s lives.
Feature image courtesy of The Lilly Library