17 August 2007

Sylvia Plath collections: The Morgan Library, Part II

On 4 July, 2007, I wrote about the Sylvia Plath collection of 40 juvenile poems held at the J. Pierpont Morgan Library in New York City. I recently received a photocopy of the materials from the library, and wanted to follow up with you on a more detailed description of the holdings.

To recap, the description of the collection reads, "In a notebook with brown paper covers and with margins decorated with drawings in color in ink and crayon. Together with early transcripts of 29 poems, mostly in pencil and mostly notebook duplicates. Presumably 27 of the poems are available in no other text than the notebook transcripts."

Below is a complete list of poems in this collection. According to this list, there are 53 titled poems, not 40 as the Morgan indicates. Also, the earliest dated poem in the manuscript is 1937, not 1940. Some of the poems appear more than once. The title is followed by the year of composition (month and day are listed if known). The number in parentheses following the title and year relates to how many times the poem appears in in this manuscript.

  • "A stately pine tree silhouetted", undated
  • A Wish Upon a Star, 1944
  • Angelic Girls, 1943, (2)
  • Apple Blossoms, 1943
  • Christmas, 1942 (2)
  • Dreams, 1945, (2)
  • Enchantment, 1945
  • Fairy Wonders, 1943
  • Farewell to Flash, 1945
  • Halloween, 1944, (2)
  • Invitation to Cove, 1945
  • King of the Ice, 1945
  • March, 1945, (2)
  • Marcia and Sylvia, 1943, (2)
  • My Grandfather's Birthday, 1943
  • My Grandmother, 1943
  • My House, 1941, (2)
  • My Mother and I, 1940, (2)
  • My Teaparty, 1942, (2)
  • Odds and Ends, 1943
  • Pearls of Dew (a chant), 1940, (2)
  • Snow, 1940, (3)
  • Spring, 1944, (2)
  • The Home of Straying Blossoms, 1944
  • The Little New Year, 1944
  • Thoughts, 1937
  • Invitation to our Camp Nurse, 1945
  • Camp Helen Storrow, 1945
  • Awake!, 1945
  • Birthay [sic.] Greeting to Mother, 1945
  • Rain, 1945,
  • Betsy and Sylvia, 1945
  • The Spring Parade, 1945
  • The Lake, 1946
  • The Fairy Scarf, 1945, (2)
  • The Wind, 1945
  • Mornings of Mist, 1946
  • A Winter Sunset, undated
  • Simplicity, 1946
  • A Golden Afternoon, 1946
  • Silver Thread, undated
  • A-a-choooo, undated
  • Dover, undated
  • A Poem, undated
  • Recess, undated
  • A Ballet Dancer, undated
  • The sunrise, undated

In addition, many of the pages have incredible illustrations by Plath. These illustrations demonstrate that initially Plath was a far superior artist than writer. This was also evident in the "Eye Rhymes" exhibit held at Indiana University in 2002.

These are truly juvenile poems; unlike many of those selected for inclusion to the "Juvenilia" section at the back of Plath's Collected Poems. Many deal with fairies, nature, the weather/seasons, holidays, friends and family. Plath's first published poem, printed in the Sunday Boston Herald on 10 August 1941, under the title "Poem", is a part of this collection. It is in the second stanza of a poem entitled "My House".

A number of these poems are familiar to me. The Lilly Library holds some of them in their Plath collection and it is possible that Smith College has some of them as well. The poem "The Home of Straying Blossoms" is also known under the title "In the Corner of My Garden". (This poem appears in full in my 2004 biography, Sylvia Plath.) Additionally, Plath published a number of these poems her junior high school (named for Alice L. Phillips) and high school (named for Gamaliel Bradford) newspapers, the Phillipian and the Bradford.

Unfortunately it is a copy from microfilm so I cannot see the colors Plath used in her illustrations. Having seen the illustrations in her mid-to-late 1940s journals at the Lilly Library, I am looking forward to any excuse to go to New York City to see them.

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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.
  • 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.
  • Elements of Literature, Third Course. Austin, Tex. : Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2009. (Photograph used)
  • Gill, Jo. "Sylvia Plath in the South West." University of Exeter Centre for South West Writing, 2008. (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, Volume 1, 1940-1956. London: Faber, 2017.
  • Plath, Sylvia, and Peter K. Steinberg and Karen V. Kukil (eds.). The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 2, 1956-1963. London: Faber, 2018.
  • 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. "'A Fetish: Somehow': A Sylvia Plath Bookmark." Court Green 13. 2017.
  • 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. "'They Had to Call and Call': The Search for Sylvia Plath." Plath Profiles 3. Summer 2010: 106-132.
  • 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. "Sylvia Plath." The Spoken Word: Sylvia Plath. London: British Library, 2010.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "Textual Variations in The Bell Jar Publications." Plath Profiles 5. Summer 2012.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. "The Persistence of Plath." Fine Books & Collections. Autumn 2017: 24-29
  • 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. "Writing Life" [Introduction]. Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year's Turning. Stroud, Eng.: Fonthill Media, 2014.
  • Steinberg, Peter K. Sylvia Plath (Great Writers). Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004.