Plath wrote poetry from the age of eight, a poem that appeared in the Boston Traveller. By the time she arrived at Smith College she had written over fifty short stories and published in a raft of magazines. At Smith she majored in English and won all the major prizes in writing and scholarship. She edited the college magazine Mademoiselle and on her graduation in 1955, she won the Glascock Prize for Two Lovers and a Beachcomber by the Real Sea. Later at Newnham, Cambridge, she wrote for the Varsity magazine. By the time Heinmann published her first collection, The Colossus and other poems in the UK in late in 1960, Plath had been short-listed several times in the Yale Younger Poets book competition and had had work printed in Harper's, The Spectator and the Times Literary Supplement. All the poems in The Colossus had already been printed in major US and British journals and she had a contract with The New Yorker. It was however her 1965 collection Ariel, published posthumously, on which Plath's reputation essentially rests.
In 1971, the volumes Winter Trees and Crossing the Water were published in the UK, including nine previously unseen poems from the original manuscript of Ariel. Writing in New Statesman, fellow poet Peter Porter wrote:
"Crossing the Water is full of perfectly realised works. Its most striking impression is of a front-rank artist in the process of discovering her true power. Such is Plath's control that the book possesses a singularity and certainty which should make it as celebrated as The Colossus or Ariel.
The Collected Poems, published in 1981, edited and introduced by Ted Hughes, contained poetry written from 1956 until her death. Plath was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, the first poet to win the prize posthumously. In 2006 Anna Journey, then a graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University, discovered a previously unpublished sonnet written by Plath entitled Ennui. The poem, composed during Plath's early years at Smith College, is published in Blackbird, the online journal.
Am the arrow,
The dew that flies
Suicidal, at one with the drive
Into the red
Eye, the cauldron of morning.
According to Hughes, Plath left behind "some 130 pages of another novel, provisionally titled Double Exposure. That manuscript disappeared somewhere around 1970."
Read more about this topic: Sylvia Plath
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