In the process of reviewing the poems I stumbled upon, in the next box "Bi-De," a folder labelled "The Bull of Bendylaw." In this folder I found an answer to the question posed last night as regards the full table of contents for the one time collection of poems. Indeed the books full contents, and more, is captured in this list. Many of us who have worked with Plath's papers know that she kept meticulous lists of submissions, both of her own work and that of her husband. This particular typed table of contents for "The Bull of Bendylaw and other poems" was made on pink Smith College Memorandum paper. In addition to the poem titles, Plath lists the name of the periodical in which the poems were submitted and, if accepted, where it appeared. For the most part these are in code, usually of two or three letters, for example "vq" is Virginia Quarterly; and "pr" is Partisan Review. The numbers do not quite add up (Plath says the book contained 45 poems, but there are far more on the list she kept). Part of the reason for this is that her list includes many of the poems Plath composed later in 1959 at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, NY. But rather than being a discouragement, what we actually see is the evolving book that would become The Colossus. However, some are typed and some are handwritten and below I will clearly list which is which.
The typed poems on the list are: "A Lesson in Vengence", "Faun", "Sow", "Spinster", "Black Rook in Rainy Weather", "Hardcastle Crags", "Mussel Hunter at Rock Harbor", "The Ghost's Leavetaking", "The Times are Tidy", "Frog Autumn", "Departure", "Snakecharmer", "The Disquieting Muses", "Owl", "Full Fathom Five", "Lorelei", "The Companionable Ills", "The Hermit at Outermost House", "The Bull of Bendylaw", "On the Decline of Oracles", and "Stumpet Song". At the top, "A Lesson in Vengence" has next to it a note indicating that it is to be removed. There is an double space at this poing in the list, and it continues, typed: "Maudlin", "All the Dead Dears", "The Moon was a Fat Woman Once" ["The Thin People"], "Green Rock, Wintrhop Bay", "Landowners", "The Goring", "Ouija", "Moonrise", "Sculpture", "I want, I want", "Night Shift", "The Beggars of Benidorm Market", "Point Shirley", "Suicide Off Egg Rock", "The Ravaged Face", "The Other Two", "Electra on Azalea Path", "Metaphors for a Pregnant Woman", "Man in Black", "Two Views of a Cadaver Room", and "The Eye-Mote". In the list "The Other Two" is completely struck out. Below this, handwritten, are the following: "Aftermath", "In Midas Country", "Medallion", "The Beekeeper's Daughter", "The Colossus", "The Manor Garden", "Mushrooms", "A Winter Ship", "The Burntout Spa", "Poem for a Birthday", and "Blue Moles." A second column contains, also handwritten: "Midas Country", "Polly's Tree", "The Sleepers", and "Two Views."
There are some differences in the abover versus what I typed up yesterday; for example "Mad Girl's Love Song", "Rhyme", and "Tinker Jack and the Tidy Wives", among others, are not present. It appears that the book changed shape quite a bit as the previous version contained a number of poems likely included in earlier book assemblages. I think of her "Cambridge" manuscript "Two Lovers and a Beachcomber by the Real Sea" which she submitted as part of her Tripos in June 1957; Plath also sumbited a book by this title to the Yale Series of Younger Poets, also in 1957 (see 9 August 1957, page 294 of The Unabridged Journals).
|A photograph of a copy of the card sent |
by Plath to McCurdy, March 1954.
The letters were great fun to transcribe and I began annotating them based on information either in my head or that was readily available. On Thursday we are going to the College Archives to get primary source material that will help us with the Smith College related letters.