14 January 2010

Update from the Archive Day 4

This is going to be a shorter post, I think, than the previous days. I concluded my examination of Plath's school notebooks and reading lists, all the way through Cambridge. I would have gone through her teaching notes from her time as instructor at Smith College (1957-1958), but I feel that Amanda Golden's work on Plath's teaching syllabus expertly & thoroughly covers this period of her reading life. Much of this information is already in LibraryThing, as a result - so I thought it would be best to move on to other parts of the archive. I think that might be my longest link ever.

I do want to say that whilst I was perusing her Cambridge notes in Box 13, Folder 5, I found a couple of typed poems that had been used as scrap paper for note taking. The papers were ripped in half. The poems I found were "Firesong" (last stanza only), "Metamorphosis", which Plath retitled "Faun", and a poem entitled "Song", which Plath eventually renamed "Song for a Summer's Day".

What struck me about "Song" first was the title. When I looked up the first line, it was revealed to me that it was "Song for a Summer's Day". But in the version I found online, it was a poem of four stanzas. The version in Box 13, folder 5 was six stanzas! The sixth stanza, as well, was six lines whilst the first five stanzas were five lines each. There are several textual differences, the length of the poem aside. I don't have my Collected Poems with me, so I'm unsure right now if this variant version is printed in the back or not. However, the version that was printed in the Christian Science Monitor on August 18, 1959 (page 8) is the same that I found online. Nevertheless, once I'm home I can do a little more research on this!

I spent the rest of the afternoon working a bit on an article for Plath Profiles 3, and then look through Plath Mss IV. The letter's to the Kane's and to Elizabeth (Compton) Sigmund were very good to read. You get a sense of the day-to-day of the springtime with gardening and weeding. But, by the time mid-July through September rolled around, of course it was a different story.

Today concluded early for me as my fingers, hands and wrists were hurting from all the typing. The numbness of my dinner Guinness is starting to fade, so I shall have to sign off... I spent the last half hour browing the exhibition cases in the entry room to the library. The Lilly is setting up for the 50th anniversary exhibit this week and though the exhibit opens on Tuesday, getting to see them set up has been interesting. If you are interested in the finest of the rare books the world has ever known, then you'll want to keep an eye out for this exhibit. There are many times you can see - in the same room - a copy of Tamerlane by A Bostonian (Edgard Allen Poe), a first folio of Shakespeare, a gorgeous double elephant folio of Audubon's Birds of America (opened to Crow), a signed/inscribed Martin Luther King Jr. (across from a book by Martin Luther), Copernicus' De Revolutionibus, J M Barrie's handwritten Peter Pan, a Gutenberg Bible, Orson Welles script for Citizen Kane, and so so so much more. The recent Sylvia Plath acquisition (Plath mss V) will be on display as well.


Anonymous said...

Re: Amanda Golden's work - I love musing over seemingly insignificant details like:

"When considering the days on which she would teach James, she placed a question mark beside Wed. for “The Pupil.”

I like to think of the simple act of Plath placing a question mark next to a lesson, little knowing that 50+ years hence someone would actually report this and strangers would read about it. I will never be famous, but it makes me think of all the little insignificant things we all jot down in our daily lives. I wonder what Plath would think of it?

I can send you some wrist bands Peter if you develop carpal tunnel! kim

Sorlil said...

What a great job you're doing, thankyou for sharing it with us in such detail. So exciting to follow!!!

Peter K Steinberg said...

Kim, I might take you up on that. My finger joints are swollen! I've Overplathed on Plath (OP-P'd: You down with OP-P?)! In the meantime, Advil tastes good!

Thanks Sorlil!

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