Two Sylvia Plath poems have been discovered by academics this week after remaining hidden in one of her old carbon paper notebooks for 50 years.
The academics who discovered it, Gail Crowther and Peter K Steinberg, also found two unseen photos of Plath.
Steinberg used Photoshop to recover the poems and a picture of a woman staring into a pool of water at her own reflection.
The first poem to be revealed is titled ‘To a Refractory Santa Claus’, and makes me wonder if it will provide any further insight into a 1961 BBC interview where Plath spoke about her childhood and how she believed in magic up until the age of nine.
“At nine, I was rather disillusioned,” Plath said.
“I stopped believing in elves and Santa Claus and all these little beneficent powers, and became more realistic and depressed.”
Sylvia Plath and her husband Ted Hughes, photo by Teddie Phillips
Plath and her ex-husband Ted Hughes had also caught the attention of literature lovers earlier this year, in April, after letters Plath wrote alleging Hughes was abusive surfaced.
Hughes widow Carol Hughes however said the letters were “absurd” and not to be taken as truth.
This is a reminder that when looking at historical texts like this we must always be engaging with them critically.
Plath was an incredibly intelligent woman, but she was also very mentally unstable in the weeks leading up to her suicide so it will most likely always remain unclear whether her letters about Hughes were the truth.
I personally believe that there is an eerie type of rawness to her claims, but I’ll let it remain a mystery for now.
Sylvia Plath on campus at uni, taken by Judy Denison
Discovering these two new poems, and insights into two famous and influential people is incredibly exciting, and it makes me hope that we can reveal new facts about other literary greats and figures in history.
The technology we now have and what we can do with it is utterly amazing, and I believe we are in a whole new age of discovery of the past of humans and of literature.
Let me know what you think, are you excited to read Plath’s new poems? Or are you just sceptical?