1. The Great Abyss is generally held to lie in the region between the supernal triangle of Sephiroth 1, 2 and 3, and the lower, worldly, part of the Sephirothic Tree. Its entrance, Daath, is sometimes shown symbolically in this position as a dotted circle to distinguish it from the solid circles of the ten Divine Sephiroth. There is disagreement as to the origin and substance of the Abyss but it is generally regarded as a region of nothingness, darkness and chaos in which malign demons and spirits live. A good discussion of Daath and the Abyss can be found in Colin Low’s Notes on Kabbala

2. William Blake’s picture of ‘God Creating the Universe’ (often given the Cabbalistic title ‘The Ancient of Days’) shows Urizen leaning from heaven with his compasses to create the world. This image has been linked to the Book of Proverbs 8: 27-30; and also (in the Tate Gallery’s William Blake Exhibition Catalogue, Tate, 200, p. 202) to chapter 8 of The Book of Daniel which, interestingly, describes Daniel’s vision of a Ram (Aries’ sign), the use and misuse of power, and which contains many references to the number four (all belonging to The Emperor).

3. Ruth Beuscher apparently wrote to Sylvia on September 26th counselling her to sue for divorce “whilst her husband’s adultery was still hot” (Stevenson, Bitter Fame, p. 257)

4. Ted has used this ambivalent meaning of ‘macadam’ before in ‘Tick Tock Tick Tock’ in Remains of Elmet (ROE 120). ( Skea, Ted Hughes: The Poetic Quest, p. 204)

5. Ted and Sylvia left England by ship on 20 June 1957. By July, they were living in a cottage at Eastham, Cape Cod, which Sylvia’s mother had rented for them for seven weeks as a wedding present (Stevenson, Bitter Fame, p. 111).

6. Another poem, ‘The Minotaur 2’, appears in Howls and Whispers (this was Cries and Whispers in early proofs) (Gehenna Press, 1998). It is a shorter poem but the energies are still Sulphurous and, again, a quarrel and Sylvia’s anger become a “skein of blood” which leads her to the labyrinth, the Minotaur and death.

7. Ted wrote this in a letter to Keith Sagar which is now held in the British Library. It was quoted by Christine Patterson, ‘Ted on Sylvia, for the Record’, The Guardian , Saturday August 18, 2001.

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