13 May 2008

Sylvia Plath: Did you know...

Did you know that Sylvia Plath and the poet Adelaide Crapsey have several things in common?

Crapsey, whose last name is unfortunate, is know for her cinquain poetry. In the cinquain, the poem is five lines long, and the syllabic pattern runs 2-4-6-8-2. Plath's poem "Mussel Hunter at Rock Harbor" is her most sophisticated, syllabic poem; though it is a far cry from the simplicity of Crapsey's cinquain.

Here is a poem by Crapsey called "The Warning":
Just now,
Out of the strange
Still dust . . . as strange, as still . . .
A white moth flew . . . Why am I grown
So cold?
This calls to mind the last line of Plath's poem "The Bee Meeting", which concludes, "Whose is that long white box in the grove, what have they accomplished, why am I cold?"

In Plath's line, grove and cold are internal slant rhymes. In Crapsey's poem, the second to last line ends with grown, which can be heard in Plath's grove. The end of Plath's "The Bee Meeting" is ominous. The next poem in her sequence, "The Arrival of the Bee Box" tells us that the bees inside are "dangerous" and the "maniacs" are "angrily clambering". Plath continues with "Stings", "The Swarm", and finally "Wintering", all of which feature flying, triumphant bees. Crapsey's flying white moth in "The Warning" leaves her feeling cold in the same way as Plath's bees do.

Plath's copy of A Comprehensive Anthology of American Poetry, edited by Conrad Aiken, is held at the Lilly Library and contains two poems by Crapsey. Though "The Warning" is not included, still Crapsey may have been familiar to our favorite poet.

In 1911, Crapsey taught a course in Poetics at Smith College. But, by 1913, she fell ill and died the next year from tuberculosis. She spent the last, painful year of her life at the TB sanatorium in Saranac Lake, New York. This is very likely the same sanatorium in which Plath's boyfriend Richard Norton convalesced in the 1950s. Plath memorialized her visit to see Norton in the story "In the Mountains" (1954) and later in The Bell Jar.

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Publications & Acknowledgements

  • BBC Four.A Poet's Guide to Britain: Sylvia Plath. London: BBC Four, 2009. (Acknowledged in)
  • Biography: Sylvia Plath. New York: A & E Television Networks, 2005. (Photographs used)
  • Connell, Elaine. Sylvia Plath: Killing the angel in the house. 2d ed. Hebden Bridge: Pennine Pens, 1998. (Acknowledged in)
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives." Plath Profiles 2. Summer 2009: 183-208.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives, Redux." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 232-246.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 3." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 119-138.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 4: Looking for New England." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012: 11-56.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. "These Ghostly Archives 5: Reanimating the Past." Plath Profiles 6. Summer 2013: 27-62.
  • Crowther, Gail and Peter K. Steinberg. These Ghostly Archives: The Unearthing of Sylvia Plath. Oxford: Fonthill, 2017. Forthcoming.
  • Death Be Not Proud: The Graves of Poets. New York: Poets.org. (Photographs used)
  • Doel, Irralie, Lena Friesen and Peter K. Steinberg. "An Unacknowledged Publication by Sylvia Plath." Notes & Queries 56:3. September 2009: 428-430.
  • Gill, Jo. "Sylvia Plath in the South West." University of Exeter Centre for South West Writing, 2008. (Photograph used)
  • Elements of Literature, Third Course. Austin, Tex. : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2009. (Photograph used)
  • Helle, Anita Plath. The Unraveling Archive: Essays on Sylvia Plath. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007. (Photographs used, acknowledged in)
  • Helle, Anita. "Lessons from the Archive: Sylvia Plath and the Politics of Memory". Feminist Studies 31:3. Fall 2005: 631-652.. (Acknowledged in)
  • Holden, Constance. "Sad Poets' Society." Science Magazine. 27 July 2008. (Photograph used)
  • Making Trouble: Three Generations of Funny Jewish Women, Motion Picture. Directed by Rachel Talbot. Brookline (Mass.): Jewish Women's Archive, 2007. (Photograph used)
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Karen V. Kukil. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962. New York: Anchor Books, 2000. (Acknowledged in)
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Peter K. Steinberg and Karen V. Kukil (eds.). The Letters of Sylvia Plath. London: Faber, 2017. Forthcoming.
  • Plath, Sylvia. Glassklokken. Oslo: De norske Bokklubbene, 2004. (Photograph used on cover)
  • Reiff, Raychel Haugrud. Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar and Poems (Writers and Their Works). Marshall Cavendish Children's Books, 2008.. (Images provided)
  • Steinberg, Peter K. Sylvia Plath (Great Writers). Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'I Should Be Loving This': Sylvia Plath's 'The Perfect Place' and The Bell Jar." Plath Profiles 1. Summer 2008: 253-262.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Sylvia Plath." The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath. London: British Library, 2010.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "'They Had to Call and Call': The Search for Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 106-132.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "This is a Celebration: A Festschrift for The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3 Supplement. Fall 2010: 3-14.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "A Perfectly Beautiful Time: Sylvia Plath at Camp Helen Storrow." Plath Profiles 4. Summer 2011: 149-166.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Proof of Plath." Fine Books & Collections 9:2. Spring 2011: 11-12.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Textual Variations in The Bell Jar Publications." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Writing Life" [Introduction]. Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year's Turning. Stroud, Eng.: Fonthill Media, 2014.