Friday, March 1, 2013

Sylvia Plath & the Professor

In a recent post we mentioned a book by Professor Trevor Thomas Sylvia Plath-Last Encounters (Bedford 1989). Having now obtained a rare (signed) copy the text contradicts our last piece on Sylvia Plath where some Camden / Regents Park locals (and friends of the professor) suggest Thomas only met her once, very shortly before her suicide. While not substantial his book must be over 10000 words. He says of Sylvia:

 I think it would be correct to say that I did not positively dislike her. She was not someone to get to know intimately at short notice, certainly not in the stressful circumstances in which we met. Because of my domestic situation I was very cautious about risking any scandal. She tended to be a self-centred person not letting herself become involved with other people's problems. Never at any time did she wonder about me and my sons and what stress we might be under. Nor did she manifested any interest in my paintings nor in what I did. The world revolved around her. This self preoccupation I have observed in  other creative people.

  Sylvia Plath lived in Fitzroy Road, Camden Town in a house where W. B. Yeats had lived. TT says she was very keen to get the place because of the Yeats connection. She would ask him favours like help in getting her car started. He writes
of a local ironmonger who asked him if he ever saw 'any of the  Willies (Yeats) ghosts around. Queer goings-on, the seances and those women, and some say black magic and plenty of carry-on.' The last part of the book has Professor T's channelled poems that came to him in the nights after her death (he was also suffering from some gas poisoning)- here is the first: 

Involved
We were involved  involuntarily
The garbage and perambulator
Between  the red blood fog
And the quiet extinction.

We were so happy you cried.
Not we but them,
The non-lovers of the
Momentary dream in Spain
Or Moroccan sun
That will not cleanse
Nor bleach the heart's tissue, 
Know but the ashes
And the dust of lust.

Will you be here? 
I am not sure
A threepence for the stamp
And you waiting
Outside
Only a door between
The compassion and eternity.

He showed the poems to a Dr Horder - 'he did not reject them or the experience.. he said she was known to have a powerful aura or psychic presence.' He also showed the poems to the 'renowned critic' A. Alvarez who 'more or less dismissed them' as a reflection of subconscious guilt about the professor's wife and children. The red cover is by Trevor Thomas.

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