Saturday, March 02, 2013

Plath crying for America

Paging through Birthday Letters, by Ted Hughes, which I read in June 1998 (shortly after it was published), I stopped at an underlined sentence in the poem "Fever": "You cried for America / And its medicine cupboard." I must have underlined this line from this book of poems for Sylvia Plath because it rang so true to me: America as the place where people take medicines that relieve the symptoms of colds and the flu, which is so much less common in Europe even today.

But I notice something else now, partly because of several recent conversations: Plath was a writer in exile, or if that sounds too dramatic, at least a writer who lived abroad for a long time, and died abroad. I'll be sure to consider this perspective the next time I return to her work. It even suggests an angle for a seminar in her poems, or at least a seminar topic that could use her poems for a week or three. (And yes, I am well aware that my own biography makes me so interested in the issue.)

1 comment:

Joseph Hutchison said...

I love this idea, Andrew. It would be well worth a seminar. You could even expand to explore poets who were self-exiled, as Plath was (and as you are, presumably), with poets who were driven into exile (Brecht, for example). The many dimension of exile or something....