1. In the spiritual fable, The Conference of the Birds, which Ted knew well, the birds which reach this point in the journey and are able to draw aside the veil and come face-to-face with the Simurgh (the Divine Source), discover that they and the Simurgh are one and the same being. That the Divine is within them.

2. Sylvia’s poem ‘Ariel’ (SPCP 239 - 240), in which she makes herself “the arrow” which flies to the sun, describes her poetic attempt to do just this.

3. Reish, The Mystical Significance of Hebrew Letters. ( .

4. Burckhardt. Alchemy, p. 140.

5. The dancing figure of the Spiritual Child, like the Magician / Magus on card number 1 at the start of the journey, holds a baton or wand denoting supernatural power . On the Traditional card the figure holds a wand or baton in each hand to suggest its superior balance and power, but in many packs only one baton is shown.

6. Sylvia wrote at this time of the “identical aims and expectations of our lives” (SPLH 9 Jan. 1957.

7. By the time Ted wrote Birthday Letters he did understand this. Earlier, in Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being, he had written of the kind of simplicity which is beyond words - simplicity which is “closest to the dumb speech of action” - inspired simplicity which “is the locked-up word of Divine Truth”. (SGCB 278).

8. Such an inheritance is material, lightweight and insubstantial rather than spiritual.

9. In her letter to her mother on 1 April 1960 (SPLH), Sylvia wrote of her Indian midwife and of having had “absolutely no anaesthesia” for Frieda’s birth. Her letter to her mother on 18 Jan. 1962 (SPLH), describes Nicholas’s birth and the empty gas cylinder.

10. Since the earliest times, in myths and legends all around the world, there have been stories of a part-Divine baby being set afloat in a reed basket in order to escape death. Joseph Cambell, for example, refers to the stories of Sargon (c. 2350 BCE), Greek Erichthonius, Hindu Vyasa and Hebrew Moses (The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology, Penguin, London, 1980. p. 73).

11. Rebirth of the Spirit in a different body (as the Dali Lama is reborn, for example) would achieve this.

12. It seems likely that the events Ted describes in ‘The Beach’ actually took place in November 1961 or in some month other than November. Sylvia’s poem ‘Whitsun (SPCP 153 - 154) describes a similar unsatisfactory beach visit and is dated 14 Feb. 1961.

13. Ted’s account of this in ‘Sheep in Fog’ (WP 191 - 211), based on Sylvia’s dated manuscripts, notes that after December 2 “she wrote nothing at all for two months” (WP 191), only revising ‘The Eavesdropper’ on December 15. He also noted that the poems Sylvia wrote when she began again in January 1963, were “very different in mood” (WP 192).

14. The ambiguity of ‘habit’ suggests the inertia which is the Vice of Malkuth and also the clothing of one who, like a monk, lives in a drab, masking garment which he wears like a useful, ‘utility’ shell. ‘Utility’, too, is a word Ted uses here with nice ambiguity: Utility clothing was introduced in England during the war, it was mass-produced, and it complied with a minimum standard of durability and style.

15. These four lines are separated from the rest of the poem for emphasis but also because the number four is the number of Earth, the Element of this Path. Four also represents the Cross of Tau and the four limbs of the dancing Tarot figure.

16. In a letter dated 26 Dec. 1962, Sylvia told to her mother that the piece had been commissioned. On 4 Feb. 1963, she wrote that she had “done it” (SPLH).

17. This poem was written with the other Ariel poems but Sylvia returned to it again on 28 Jan. 1963.

18. In his Critical Forum recording, Ted used the words “downbeat” and “upbeat” to describe the moods of his poems. He aimed to end any sequence of poems in an “upbeat” mood.

19. In Cabbalistic tradition, the Sephirothic Tree represents the body of the primal man, Adam Cadmon, and each Sephiroth and Path corresponds to a particular body part. In Crowley’s compilation of such correspondences, the Path of Tau is associated with the bones. (777 p. 6).

20. Red-ochre, perhaps because of its blood red colour, has been used in burials and other ritual practices since Palaeolithic times. Haematite, too, has a long history of use in funeral rituals and for protective amulets and magical healing.

21. On one copy of the note which Ted sent to his publishers about changes to the contents of Birthday Letters, he added the poem ‘The City’ (THCP 1179 - 1180) as the final poem. The poem does not suit this final Path and he changed his mind about this inclusion before publication. ‘The City’ was first published as poem number eight in the sequence of eleven poems in Howls and Whispers.

22. From a letter which Ted wrote to a friend and which was read by Frieda Hughes at the Whitbread Prize award ceremony. Quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald, 28 Jan. 1999.

23. Letter to Keith Sagar 18 June 1998.

24. Letter from Carol Hughes to AS (8 November 1999). The actual publication of Birthday Letters, just ten months before Ted died, finally gave him this feeling of total freedom.

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