Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Trevor Thomas

Trevor Thomas

“He was the man who
had lived downstairs
from Plath on Fitzroy
Road and may have
been the last person
to see her alive”
—Janet Malcolm
The Silent Woman

I work all day—sleep at night
Waking at four—staring at the dark
Is that gas—from an oven I smell?
The crazy woman poet—upstairs
Interrogating the dead—daily
Abandoned by—her gigolo husband
Ariel death—a day nearer now
Up there—in Yeats’ kitchen
Sylvia’s head deep—in the oven

The gas seeps down—into my flat
Drugging me—wretchedly woozy
I go to work anyway—but get sent home
Later finding out—in her anxiousness
To exterminate herself—to get lost
Not to be here—not to be anywhere
Designing—desiring total emptiness
Divorce not good enough—really?
Did she have—a midnight visitor?

Later they had—a bongo party
Getting drunk upstairs—Ted Hughes
And his girlfriend—Assia Wevill
Not just a typical—wake he says
More like a celebration—a relief
Could the dizzy—American woman
Pretend to die—or was it murder?
It filled Trevor—with great fear
His fear—Ted Hughes a killer?

Assia’s face—one look told him
It wasn’t an innocent—unfocused blur
Most things—don’t happen that way
Her look—more like being scared
Worried about being caught—chilled
By realizing—how he raged out
How can one be brave—sleeping
In the same bed—next to a husband
Who didn’t whine—when he killed?

Death is no different—than living
There’s no need—to tip-toe the grave
The impulse to murder—slowly
Strengthens—no escape being
An accomplice—to murder
The flat upstairs—there’s much
To be done—tracks to be covered-up
Accomplices—to be done in
Gas seems to work—rather nicely


1. “Trevor Thomas was the third member of the anti-Hughes axis of Elizabeth Sigmund and Clarissa Roche. He was the source of the story about the party with bongo drums in Plath’s flat on the night of her funeral. Sigmund persuaded him to put his memories down on paper. At her urging, he produced a twenty-seven-page typewritten manuscript chronicling his two-month-long acquaintance with Plath at 23 Fitzroy Road, “Sylvia Plath: Last Encounters” Like Dido Merwin’s memoir, it renders an immediate and vivid self-portrait, and like Dido, Thomas remembers Plath unaffectionately. He presents Hughes as a haughty, menacing figure who was consistently unpleasant to him. “I knew from my first view of him he was someone I’d want to keep at a very safe distance.”—Janet Malcolm, The Silent Woman, New York: Vintage, 1995, 193.

2. “Later, as I thought about Thomas’s house, it appeared to me as a kind of monstrous allegory of truth. This is the way things are, the place says. This is unmediated actuality, in all its multiplicity, randomness, inconsistency, redundancy, authenticity. …in the same way the narratives called biographies pale and shrink in the face of the disorderly actuality that is a life. The house also stirred my imagination as a metaphor for the problem of writing. Each person who sits down to write faces not a blank page but his own vastly overfilled mind. The goal is to make a space where a few ideas and images and feelings may be so arranged that a reader will want to linger awhile among them, rather than flee…”—Janet Malcolm, The Silent Woman, New York: Vintage, 1995, 204-205.

A small archive of material deriving from the papers of Professor Trevor Thomas, neighbor to the Hughes's. Sylvia Plath; Aurelia Plath; Professor Trevor Thomas
Richard Ford (London, , United Kingdom) Price: £ 3000.00

Book Description: [1976-1990], 1990. The Mother, the Neighbor and the Black Hand of Ted Hughes

A small archive of material deriving from the papers of Professor Trevor Thomas, Art Historian, occupant of the flat below that of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath at 23 Fitzroy Road, Primrose Hill, London. It includes: a. Two Typed Letters Signed from Sylvia Plath's mother, Aurelia, airmail, to "Professor Thomas", detailed, 7 & 28 May 1976, one with handwritten date the other with a handwritten PS.7 May 1976: She is responding to the haunting contents of a long letter from Thomas, convinced that Sylvia would have left letters for her family which she quotes Thomas[?] as saying were "destroyed when found". She comments that many inaccuracies have been written about Sylvia's work. For example The Bell Jar wasn't autobiographical. She discusses the absence of a will and "her divorce [not having been] finalized", and Ted Hughes inheriting copyright. She is anxious for the children of the marriage - the living should count - her daughter can't be brought back. Ted Hughes has matured enough to look after them (formerly "foundering in immaturity"). She fears that the memoir he plans will stir up a controversy damaging to the children's faith in their father and to Hughes's later marriage to "a fine young woman of good family, who is both wise and loving in regard to the children". She understands the injustice he has suffered but would rather the children weren't hurt by a terrible "revelation." She asks him to send "the poems" [poems written by Thomas after Plath's death - see below). "I do believe that as a very sensitive person you were attuned . . . to something beyond our comprehension and that it was connected with my Sylvia. She adds details of the negotiations she and Sylvia were having about a return "home" in the spring. 28 May 1976: She has only just been able to read the poems he sent. "These are written with Sylvia's voice . . ." she briefly theorizes about the lingering spirit. Her grief is still alive after 13 years, and says that the last letter in Letters Home was in fact her last letter, and that "the bitter, accusatory letters had to be omitted for the children's sake.. A paragraph about poet, Robin Morgan. [* my asterisk] The critics have lambasted her about ellipses in the book of letters but she explains Hughes's control. She is upset at the ideas of "wild parties" in her "dead daughter's apartment". She is understanding of Thomas's statement that he would publish the poems cutting out "references to Ted Hughes that might hurt the children". "Will you do me one more favor? Please destroy this letter after reading it." The PS mentions Sylvia's brother, Warren.*A photocopy of Robin Morgan's savage anti-Hughes poem is included in the same folder as the typescript of the memoir.

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