Friday February 13, 1959
First time I've had the heart to write in here for weeks. A lousy green depressing cold. Cried with the old stone-drop gloom with RB yesterday. She said I don't work as well so bad: I think I'm going to get well and then I feel I can't; need to be punished. Get a job, in Cambridge, somewhere, in a 10 day limit. I dream of bookstores, design research. That would be something. It is seven thirty. We have had orange juice, oatmeal, coffee for the first time in weeks of late sloppy risings and Ted's exile to the library. We are fools. The alarm on, we shower and rise. Five hours from seven to twelve is all we need for writing. She says: you won't write. This is so, not that I can't, although I say I cant.
Have been reading Faulkner. At last. Sanctuary and beginning the collected stories and excerpts. Will go on a jag. Absolutely flawless descriptive style: and much description: dogs, their smells, fuckings and terrors. Scenes. Whorehouse interiors. Colors, humor and above all a fast plot: rape with corn cobs, sexual deviation, humans shot and burned alive, he gets it in. And where are my small incidents, the blood poured from the shoes?
Sent Johnny Panic to Accent. Just to get it printed would give me a lift. Hornbook took "The Bull of Bendylaw": an auspice for my book at the Yale thing? I need to get rid of these poems some way.
Am going to Marty's this morning but never again anything in the morning except RB: my sunday confession.
The cat trying to get into my lap: it is spoiled by loving & hugging.
Shirley's story: her telling Mrs. N all about sex, Mrs. N reading sex books and telling her something helpful about women getting climaxes, which the indefatigable Mrs. N gets at fifty and after. "Did it help?" "Shirley tells me everything." The idealization of Dick, her favorite son, and Joanne, "who can do no wrong: they go to New York, they sail, and no one worries about the money: Mrs. N's borrowings of cribs and scales and toidy seats for Shirley's baby. Making her feel ashamed. The terrible mother. Dick and Joanne's measured three hour shift visits to both pairs of parents. The "hunting of the oar" at twilight.
C---'s sicknesses, calling Marty. Her affair with the married architect, moving out of the house. Stories from mad points of view. Free myself. The guilt, need for punishment is absurd. I am a victim of original sin, which is the natural human sloth, part of the human predicament. The cat stands up like a woodchuck in my lap and licks the space bar as if that would keep me loving it on my lap.
Stanley Kunitz, his bright white Cambridge apartment with the blood-red burlap curtains and the violent depthless red-accented paintings of his New Greenwich Village wife, who called him: Uh-huh, uh-huh, bye honey. His queer astigmatism, dismissing all poets but himself and the old Roethke and Penn Warren, especially women, whose success must be particularly distasteful to him. The experience of the New England Poetry Society meeting, their spending two hours on their little reading of members trash, tea, a hate-lipped Poetry editor of the Saturday Evening post advising about submissions, before letting Kunitz read and then the unanswered telephone outside the door ringing throughout. Dinner at the horrible Hotel Commander with Isabella Gradner and the Fassets and Kunitz and fur-sleeved gross-faced Gerta.
[Een andere visie op de ontmoeting met Kunitz: When Kunitz was poet-in-residence at Brandeis, for the 1958-59 academic year, he often invited Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes over for drinks at his Cambridge apartment. Plath refers to the acquaintance ungraciously in a journal entry dated February 13, 1959—a day when, she admits, she had a “lousy green depressing cold”: “Stanley Kunitz, his bright white Cambridge apartment with the blood-red burlap curtains and the violent depthless red-accented paintings of his New Greenwich Village wife, who called him: Uh-huh, uh-huh, bye honey. His queer astigmatism, dismissing all poets but himself and the old Roethke and Penn Warren, especially women, whose success must be particularly distasteful to him.”
In fact, Kunitz was unusually generous to young poets, and particularly susceptible to poetry by women. (He even recommended Plath’s first collection, “The Colossus,” for publication.) In the early sixties, he began teaching at Columbia, and one of his first students was Louise Glück. “Kunitz’s voice would comment on the weak line, the dull word, the specific opacity,” Glück has written in an essay. More important, years after she stopped being his student, during a period when she was writing profusely and uselessly, he invited her over for a Martini. He told her that her new work was awful. He also told her that it didn’t matter, because she was a poet.]
* Over de dagboeken van Sylvia Plath
* Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)