The First Pure Clear Place airs on Sunday 12 February, 6pm, RTÉ Lyric FM
Did you know that Sylvia Plath visited Ireland in September 1962?
Heather Clark, author of the biography Red Comet: The short life and blazing art of Sylvia Plath will be one of the contributors on the The First Pure Clear Place, on Sunday 12 February at 6.00pm, when guests will talk about Plath’s time in Ireland.
Sylvia Plath and her husband, Ted Hughes, visited Ireland as guests of the Irish poet Richard Murphy, who at the time was living in the fishing village of Cleggan, in Galway.
Murphy brought them to visit Yeats’s tower at Ballylee, which Plath later described in a letter as ‘the first pure clear place’ that she had been to for some time.
The programme, presented by Belfast poet Leontia Flynn, explores Sylvia Plath’s lifelong admiration of WB Yeats. She loved his work and it influenced her own development as a poet.
The visit to Ireland, as well as being a pilgrimage to the land of Yeats, was meant to rekindle Plath and Hughes’s relationship, but even Yeats’s blessing was not enough to save the marriage.
There was another Yeats element to the story when, in December 1962, Plath moved into a flat in a house in London where he had lived as a child. She was full of plans and enthusiasm, but only a few months later it is where she died by suicide on 11th February 1963.
A thrilling part of the programme is when we hear Sylvia Plath’s own voice in a 1958 Library of Congress recording.
Contributors to the programme include researcher Dr Maria Johnston, who describes seeing Plath’s own books of Yeats’s poetry, full of her notes and underlinings and poet Gerald Dawe, who recalls Richard Murphy.
You can listen back to other episodes in The Lyric Feature here