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Read Sylvia Plath’s first published poem, which she wrote at age 8.

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October 28, 2021, 1:50pm

Yesterday would have been Sylvia Plath’s 89th birthday, so today we’re remembering her by going back to the start of her work: Plath’s first known poem, published when she was only eight (and a half) years old.

Eight-year-old Plath submitted her work to the Boston Herald with a letter that read, “Dear Editor: I have written a short poem about what I see and hear on hot summer nights,” and it ran in the Sunday paper on August 10th, 1941.

Here is the brief and charming poem, titled, simply, “Poem”:

Hear the crickets chirping
In the dewy grass.
Bright little fireflies
Twinkle as they pass.

Plath’s letter ended, “Thank you for my Good Sport pin,” as she was a member of the Herald’s Good Sport Club for Children.

The editing impulse was present in Plath’s life even then: those four lines appeared in a longer unpublished poem she wrote that same year, titled “My House.” In that poem, the first two lines read, “At night I hear the crickets chirp / in green and dewy grass.”

If you’re interested in more juvenile writings from Plath, this video from Gothamist takes a tour through her childhood manuscripts at the New York Public Library. The materials include comics she drew for her brother, and the caption under a drawing of herself is particularly bittersweet: “This is Sylvia. She smiles and is polite.”

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