Several previously unknown poems by Sylvia Plath have been discovered hidden in the back of one of her notebooks, according to The Guardian. Researchers working on a new book on the poet came upon a piece of carbon paper that contained two of Plath’s poems, and potentially a third, although that one has not been verified.
Plath’s papers are held at the Lilly Library at Indiana University Bloomington, where the notebook was found. On the same carbon paper as the newly discovered poems, Plath had also typed the table of contents for a poetry collection by her husband, Ted Hughes. Plath had typed up two published poems, “The Shrike” and “Natural History,” as well as the two unpublished ones.
Using Photoshop, Plath scholar Peter K. Steinberg deciphered “To a Refractory Santa Claus,” a poem about yearning for the fair weather of Spain during a cold English winter. (Plath and Hughes honeymooned on the eastern coast of Spain.) “Although they said the poem was inferior to Plath’s later work, the academics described the imagery in the poem as ‘spectacular’,” according to The Guardian. The second poem, “Megrims,” is a speech by a paranoid patient directed to a doctor. The third poem is likely Plath’s, but has not yet been deciphered.
Steinberg’s book with fellow Plath researcher Gail Crowther, These Ghostly Archives, reveals these and other new discoveries about the poet, who died in 1963. It comes out in October.
[h/t The Guardian]