1. Joseph Campbell, in The Masks of God, traced this metaphor in the belief systems of many cultures and over many centuries and he noted the common human need to construct an explanatory cosmology in which the mysteries, “the invisible things of God”, are made visible and are “reconciled” with “contemporary consciousness” (MOG 4, 613).

2. Reish, The Mystical Significance of Hebrew Letters.

3. Crowley, 777, p. 41.

4. This is the Tarot title for this card. Ibid. p.34.

5. The number of these drops varies, but on the Traditional card there are nine, which are coloured blue, like water drops which catch the sunlight and are essential for fertility.

6. Sylvia captured this scene in words, too, in her journal. (SPJ 26 Aug. 1956, ‘Sketches of a Spanish Summer’). Her words and sketches were later published in The Christian Science Monitor Nos. 5 and 6, Nov. 1956 (SPJ Editor’s note 261).

7. Eliot, Four Quartets, ‘Burnt Norton’, lines 137 - 143 and 62 - 67.

8. William Blake’s notes to his vision of ‘The Last Judgement’. Plowman (Ed.) William Blake: Poems and Prophecies, Dent, London, 1970. p.364.

9. Ibid. p. 362.

10. Blake, Op. cit. ‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell’, p. 49.

11. Ted used Blake’s etchings for The Book of Job as inspiration for the “Alchemical Cave Drama” of Cave Birds and he was very familiar with Blake’s Alchemical and Cabbalistic ideas and methods. I examine this in detail in Ted Hughes: The Poetic Quest.

12. This image can still be seen on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

13. Sylvia’s drawing still exists, although the scene which she captured eventually “disappeared / Under” surface changes, and Sylvia, too “went under” into her grave.

14. Ted’s beliefs about memory and imagination incorporated much of the Neo-Platonic teaching which derived from Aristotle. Frances Yates briefly outlined Aristotle’s views on this subject in The Art of Memory, Pimlico, London, 1992. pp. 46 - 47.

15. Howard Rogovin (1927 - ). American artist. Emeritus Professor of Art and Art History, University of Iowa.

16. These three legs are symbolized in Thor’s hammer and in the three-legged swastika, which represents the Sun’s continuous circling and its power in the cycles of Nature.

17. Hughes, ‘Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar and Ariel’, Thumbscrew 2, Spring 1995, p. 2.

18. Platonists and Neo-Platonists believed that the Soul was drawn down by the intoxicating ecstasy of sensual and sexual pleasures. Thomas Taylor, Platonist and scholar of the Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries, described most of these mythological associations in his essay on ‘Porphyry’s Cave of the Nymphs’. Raine & Harper (Eds.), Thomas Taylor the Platonist, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1969, pp. 305 - 308.

19. The May flower, the Hawthorn, blooms throughout May and June.

20. The lion is the hunting form of the ancient Mother Goddess, Innana-Astarte. It is also associated in myth and religion with bees and with regeneration, as in Samson’s Biblical riddle.

21. A copy of Ted’s letter to ‘Andrea and Robert’ (dated 16 June 1998) is amongst the Sagar / Hughes correspondence in the British Library.

22. Sylvia’s father was know as the “bee king”, as if he were the Earthly representative of the Jupiter’s bee-powers.

23. In Magic and Herbal lore the Horse Chestnut is placed under the Dominion of both Jupiter (for provoking abundance and nourishment) and Venus (for provoking lust). In ‘Autumn Nature Notes’, Ted wrote of the “May lamps” of this “royal tree”, (SS 46). Its fruit afforded him a “peek” into the “well-shaft”: and the well-shaft and the stars also occur at the end of ‘The Bee God’.

24. And like new life buzzing around the Biblical Samson’s lion-carcass.

25. In ‘Words, heard by accident, over the phone’ (SPCP 202 - 203), Sylvia described her reaction to this. The poem is dated 11 July 1962.

26. She described this in ‘Burning the Letters’ (SPCP 204).

27. These are the raw facts. No-one but Sylvia and Ted can know what really happened between them at that time, and given the turmoil of emotions which inevitably accompanies such a personal crisis, it is likely that even they did not fully understand all that occurred.

28. This poem deals with events between October 1962 and February 1963. Its title on the publishing proof was ‘Cries and Whispers’ but ‘Cries’ was crossed through and ‘Howls’ substituted. It was first published in the Limited Edition of Howls and Whispers (a title in which a similar substitution was made at proof stage) in 1998.

29. Aurelia’s name carries echoes of the Sky-God’s atmospheric lightnings. And the “blind arrow” of the “lone bee” resembles a Medusa’s nematocyst barb. Sylvia, in her poetic exorcism of her mother, ‘Medusa’ (SPCP 224 - 226), sought to throw off the “eely tentacle” which, in jellyfish, is made sticky and deadly by just such barbs.

30. From Sylvia’s letters and Aurelia’s notes in SPLH between 27 August and 4 Feb. 1963, it is clear that some of these helpers and advisers were Sylvia’s brother and his wife, her Aunt Dot, Olive Higgins Prouty (who had been Sylvia’s mentor since Smith College), and Sylvia’s psychiatrist, Ruth Beuscher.

31. ‘fixed stars / Govern a life’ [sic.] is a phrase which occurs in identical form in Sylvia’s poem ‘Words’ (SPCP 270) and in Ted’s poem ‘A Dream’ (BL 118 - 119) but it does not mean that life is fully determined by the stars. The influence of the stars, ever-present in our world, creates the patterns of energy to which we, as individuals, will react. How we react, however, depends on our own free will and on the strength or weakness of the Spirit within us.

32. Frieda Hughes is, in fact, a practicing artist and poet.

33. The numerology of this poem combines 8 and 5, both Mercurial numbers. Mercury is the fifth Alchemical planet and 5 represents the quintessence: 5 also represents the spirit resurrected from the tomb of matter, and so signifies a new beginning. The poem begins with 17 lines (1 + 7 = 8) and ends with two stanzas of 5 lines – twin stanzas which sit above each other on the page like the two worlds of the figure 8, linked by a light-filled, wordless moment. These two stanzas also suggest the five fingers of two hands.

34. Lares and Penates are amongst the earliest representatives of the gods in our world. Their images used to be placed at the threshold and above the hearth of the family home, where they were regularly acknowledged as mediators between the family and the gods, and as protectors of the gods’ gifts to the family of fire, food, and shelter. They are guardians of the order and continuity of family life.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional