Read Sylvia Plath’s first published poem, which she wrote at age 8.
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The editing impulse was present in Plath’s life even then: those four lines appeared in a longer unpublished poem she wrote that same year, titled “My House.”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.”