Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Sylvia's "Favorite Place in America": Childs Park

Rather than details about dead folks today, here are photos of Childs Park (Northampton, Massachusetts) in June's full bloom. This elegantly landscaped 40-acre park is only steps away from the apartment Sylvia shared with Ted Hughes while she taught at Smith College. Sylvia wrote her poem "Childs Park Stones" about the boulders dotting the park, ironically its least interesting feature. Yet her creative mind viewed the primordial stones "as juxtaposed to the ephemeral orange & fuschia azaleas and feel the park is my favorite place in America." (Journals, June 11, 1958).

The wealthy Childs family, owners since 1915, opened their property to the public in 1950. It is still privately run, so rules of conduct apply: no organized games; no skating or skateboards; all cars out by 5 p.m.; everybody out by dusk. Besides the fabulous azalea/rhododendron bushes, the park includes formal gardens, a rose garden, a small pine forest, and, pictured, two views of the frog pond full of lilypads, with a bench for contemplation at one end.

Hear Plath read her poem, recorded June 13, 1958.

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