The aim of the present complete edition, which contains a numbered sequence of the 224 poems written after 1956 together with a further 50 poems chosen from her pre-1956 work, is to bring Sylvia Plath's poetry together in one volume, including the various uncollected and unpublished pieces, and to set everything in as true a chronological order as is possible, so that the whole progress and achievement of this unusual poet will become accessible to readers.
Sylvia Plath died in 1963, and even now her outsize persona threatens to bury her poetry--the numerous biographies and studies often drawing the reader toward anecdote and away from the work. It's a relief to turn to the poems themselves and once more be jolted by their strange beauty, hard-wrought originality, and acetylene anger. "It is a heart, / This holocaust I walk in, / O golden child the world will kill and eat." While the juvenilia and poems written before 1960 that Ted Hughes has included here prefigure Plath's later obsessions, they also enable us to witness her turn from thesaurus-heavy verse to stripped-down art as they gather power through raw simplicity. "The blood jet is poetry. / There is no stopping it," she declares in "Kindness."