Poetry News

New Sylvia Plath Poem Discovered

By Harriet Staff

This summer, Karen Kukil, the associate curator of special collections at Smith College received an envelope from alumna Marcia (Marty) Brown Stern. In it was an unedited, unpublished poem by Sylvia Plath, who was roommates with Stern at Smith. Here, Kukil describes receiving the poem, titled "marcia," which is unfortunately not published in the post:

Three weeks before she died on July 25, 2012, Marcia (Marty) Brown Stern ’54 sent me a registered letter, which began, “What is enclosed may astonish you.” Indeed it did. The envelope included a draft of “marcia,” an unpublished poem that Sylvia Plath ’55 wrote about their sophomore year together at Smith College in 1951. In the poem, Sylvia described her cherished friend’s cheeks as “appleshining.”

... Marty was also the model for Jody in Plath's novel, The Bell Jar (Heinemann, 1963).This time, in prose, Sylvia described Jody with cheeks that “bloomed like good apples.” Marty wrote “No—” next to this description in her copy of the American edition,which is now part of the Sylvia Plath Collection at Smith College along with an inscribed copy of The Colossus (Heinemann,1960), Plath’s first book of poems, and 21 original letters. The letters, written between 1951 and 1963 (the year Plath died) celebrate the most important events in her life, including the birth of her daughter, Frieda, on April 1, 1960. When Marty finally met Frieda in London in 2002 she wrote to me that Frieda “is a lively, talented, and unique woman—Sylvia would be proud!”

Sylvia’s journals are filled with references to Marty. Apparently, rooming together at Haven House was one of the most vital experiences of Sylvia’s life. She particularly admired Marty’s exuberance. She also clearly associated New England fall days and crisp apples with her clear-eyed friend.

Read the full post here.

Originally Published: October 5th, 2012