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Bob Holman & Margery Snyder

Shrines to Ted and Sylvia

By September 5, 2010

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Earlier this year, after urgings by Seamus Heaney, it was announced that Ted Hughes will be honored with a memorial alongside those of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Keats, Shelley and Blake in Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner:

from The Guardian (UK):
Ted Hughes joins literary greats at Poets' Corner,” by Charlotte Higgins
“Ted Hughes, poet laureate and author of such celebrated collections as Crow and Birthday Letters, is to be honoured by a memorial in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. Although his ashes will not be re-interred in the abbey, his life and achievements will be marked by a plaque to be installed early next year.... The decision to erect memorials in the abbey is made by the Dean of Westminster, John Hall.... Poets’ Corner has become, in Hall’s words, the ‘national shrine’ to Britain’s most celebrated writers.”

from The Independent (UK):
Ted Hughes to join literary elite with Poets’ Corner memorial,” by Arifa Akbar
“It is only 12 years since his death but Ted Hughes is to be recognised as one of Britain’s greatest artists as a memorial is erected to him in Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner. The memorial for Hughes, who was Poet Laureate from 1984 until he died from cancer in 1998, will lie in the south transept, alongside monuments for William Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, William Blake and T S Eliot. He is the first poet to be so commemorated since Sir John Betjeman’s memorial was erected in 1984.”

Now the American Poets’ Corner at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City has announced that its newest addition will be a memorial to Hughes’ American wife, Sylvia Plath:

from the Sylvia Plath Info blog, posted by Peter K. Steinberg:
Sylvia Plath to be inducted in Poets’ Corner,”
“The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine’s Poet in Residence and Electors have chosen Sylvia Plath as the 2010 inductee to their Poets’ Corner. Plath will join such poets as Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, W. H. Auden, and Tennessee Williams, last year’s inductee. The Poet’s Corner was established in 1983, and each poet has a stone engraved with a line from her or his work. The Cathedral will present a program celebrating Sylvia Plath on Thursday November 4th at 7:30 p.m.; the formal induction will take place on Sunday the 7th at the 4 p.m. Evensong.”

And back in England, where Plath is buried, there are calls for a grander memorial that would accommodate the many visitors to her grave in a northern village cemetery:

from The Guardian (UK):
Sylvia Plath fans call for a fitting memorial to the poet,” by Vanessa Thorpe
“A small stone in a cemetery in the Yorkshire village of Heptonstall marks the unassuming grave of Sylvia Plath, the American poet and novelist whose fame has grown each year since her suicide in 1963. And growing every year, too, are the numbers of foreign visitors who make a pilgrimage to the grave. Frequently they find it looking untended and unkempt, and this has prompted strong calls for a proper memorial to her life and work.... Demands for a more appropriate memorial to Plath have been prompted by the discovery of a touching poem written by the poet’s old friend Elizabeth Sigmund.” [Note from Guide Margy Snyder: You can read that poem, “Shep-en-Mut,” in the paper entitled “A Poem, A Friend,” a collaboration between Gail Crowther of Lancaster University and Elizabeth Sigmund that was published in Plath Profiles, the three-year-old Plath journal at Indiana University.]

More on Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes:
Our biographical profile of Plath, with links to buy her books
Thinking About Sylvia Plath as the Winter Darkness Comes On (November 2012)
Sylvia Plath Speaks in Her Own Voice (April 2010)
A Star Chart for Sylvia Plath’s Birthday (November 2008)
The Poet’s Name Inscribed on a Hidden Slab (August 2003)

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