Saturday, October 17, 2009
Ever since you went I've been wondering if you'd write, since that last day was unpleasant for us too. If you're still curious to know the cause--or what was probably the main cause--it was that Sylvia hadn't been able to do any work all week in the middle of her first longish work which had been going like gunpowder up to that point, and she was upset at the same time at taking no part in your visit except to cook and so on. So your sharp remarks to her on that Friday hit her with a special irony.Just a little later in the same letter, Hughes explains that he and Plath have fled the literary life in London (which he elsewhere defines as "a chance juxtaposition of individuals who wish to be known as 'writers' held in a semblance of community by the watchfulness of their mutual envy and malice.") Where they have fled to is a property in Devon. Yes, the two poets have pooled their resources and bought
a house with 6 bedrooms, a stable with 3 stalls, a spare 2 room cottage, a big vegetable garden, an extensive orchard and 2 1/2 acres of land. Also a thatched roof. It's an old farm--part of it 11th Century. There's a prehistoric tumulus or fort-mound in the orchard. It's a knock-out. We're having the owner clear out the population of woodworm and death-watch beetles before we move in, this weekend.I know, I know, the place was probably tumbling down, and the insect population had been breeding in the beams for the last millennium. Still, it sounds like quite a retreat, doesn't it? They even got a tumulus at no extra charge. The description made me envious, as it must every New Yorker, grateful for every miserable square foot of living space. It also made me ponder my own dream house, which is not nearly so extensive. It seems to be located in a pine grove, simply because I like the smell of pines and the springy feeling of walking on the fallen needles. No stable. An orchard would be nice--pears and apples--as would a flat grassy area in back, cleared of deer ticks and other pests by the Army Corps of Engineers. I could write sestinas at the kitchen table. The living room, the biggest in the house, would be rustic but also modern and comfortable, like the interior of Davy Crockett's cabin with high-speed Internet access. I sound like I'm joking, but I'm not. Outside at night I would be spared the shouting and high-decibel flirtation from the singles bars out on Second Avenue. Just quiet, and velvety darkness, and a solid complement of stars on cloudless nights, which I could study with a Sears and Roebuck telescope on the front porch. I could go on.
Thank you from the bottom of my sometimes ruefully but in it for a lifetime married heart.