Notes on Poems 19561963

1956

In this year, Sylvia Plath (SP) began to write the poems of her first published collection.

At the beginning of the year she was in England, at Cambridge University, reading English on a Fulbright Fellowship and living in Whitstead, an annexe of Newnham College. In February she met her future husband, Ted Hughes (TH). In April, she was in Rome and Paris, touring alone.

On 16 June she married, and lived until September in Spain, mainly in the fishing village of Benidorm (at that time still undeveloped as a tourist resort).

Through September she was in West Yorkshire with her husband, returning to Cambridge in October to live again in Whitstead until December, when she and TH moved into a flat in the town. At Christmas they returned to West Yorkshire.

1 conversation among the ruins. On the painting by Giorgio de Chirico, a postcard reproduction of which was pinned to the door of the poet's room.

2 winter landscape, with rooks. On 20 February 1956, SP noted: 'Wrote one good poem: "Winter Landscape, with Rooks": it moves, and is athletic: a psychic landscape.'

5 tale of a tub. On 20 February 1956, she had written: 'Began another big one, more abstract [than 'Winter Landscape, with Rooks'; cf. note on No. 2], written from the bathtub: take care it doesn't get too general.'

34 spider. Anansi is the famous spider trickster hero of West African and Caribbean folklore. Towards the end of this year SP became interested in African folklore in general, with results that can be detected throughout the rest of her work.

43 November graveyard. At Heptonstall, West Yorkshire, where the poet is buried.

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