Sylvia Plath died in 1963, and even now her outsize persona threatens to bury her poetry--the numerous biographies and studies often drawing the reader toward anecdote and away from the work. It's a relief to turn to the poems themselves and once more be jolted by their strange beauty, hard-wrought originality and acetylene anger. "It is a heart, / This holocaust I walk in, / O golden child the world will kill and eat." While the juvenilia and poems written before 1960 that Ted Hughes has included here prefigure Plath's later obsessions, they also enable us to witness her turn from thesaurus-heavy verse to stripped-down art as they gather power through raw simplicity. "The blood jet is poetry. / There is no stopping it," she declares in "Kindness."
About the Author
Sylvia Plath (1932-
63) was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and studied at Smith College. In 1955 she went to Cambridge University on a Fulbright scholarship, where she met and later married Ted Hughes. She published one collection of poems in her lifetime, The Colossus
(1960), and a novel, The Bell Jar
(1963). Her Collected Poems
, which contains her poetry written from 1956 until her death, was published in 1981 and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.
Ted Hughes (1930-1998) was born in Yorkshire. His first book, The Hawk in the Rain
, was published in 1957 by Faber & Faber and was followed by many volumes of poetry and prose for adults and children. He received the Whitbread Book of the Year for two consecutive years for his last published collections of poetry, Tales from Ovid
(1997) and Birthday Letters
(1998). He was Poet Laureate from 1984, and in 1998 he was appointed to the Order of Merit.