Plath & Hughes on Winthrop beach. This picture is often attributed to Cape Cod yet the jetty and rocks in the background identify it more clearly as Winthrop, where Sylvia spend her very early years and where family members had a house.
Lately i've been reading a lot about Sylvia Plath, though i'm not quite sure why - why now, after all these years am i coming back to Plath. After all, i'm older now and out of my semi idol worship phase and have developed a more realistic and clearer view of those that i admire, yet i'm still drawn to Plath the way I am still drawn to Kurt Cobain of Nirvana or Elliott Smith or any great artist that I respected before they died. I hate that the few that i actually identify with are the ones who opt out. I wonder what, if anything this says about me. Will one day, i too, opt out? God, i hope not. I don't think so but who can predict their own life.
To be clear, my respect for any of these people did not increase after they took their own life. If anything, it just pissed me off to see such talent so selfishly taken away from us, as if they had each abconded in the night taking with them their gift of word or song or both, leaving us with their full and yet empty hearts, the profound sense of yearning and sorrow in their tone, that rings true and through both lyric and meter. Plath just won't go away; it is almost as if she refuses to die. That her presence is still here, still present and because i happen to live not even two blocks from her childhood home in Winthrop by the Sea, i feel her more acutely. I look out of the study window and i see the beach - her beach - the one she wrote of so often, and to where she lay, allowing herself to be bronzed and blonded by the sun, her lungs filling with the same briney sea-air that fills my own on these foggy mornings and gauzey twilight afternoons.
I had read Bitter Fame, Ted and Sylvia, Birthday Letters, Sylvia Plath - a biography, etc etc. Any book on Plath, i had read long ago and filed away and every once in a while, i would seek out her poems and read those too, and even read her stories in Johnny Panic and The Bible of Dreams or even my tattered and torn copy of The Bell Jar. Reading the poems and the biographies at the saem time made each more impressive - by which i mean, it left an impression so deep that i could almost feel her strong hand squeezing my arm, leaving red marks and blue bruises as if she were desperate to reach the one person who would understand what it was she had been trying to get at all those years through her writing and the way she lived.