At the Beach with Sylvia Plath

Photo of Sylvia Plath from Gordon Ames Lameyer Papers probably from the Summer of 1953.

Sylvia Plath during a beach holiday in 1953, three years before she met Ted Hughes, and 10 years before her death. (photo from the Gordon Ames Lameyer Papers)

Even some who never read your poetry,

know about your suicide, troubled marriage, depression,

and life in the bell jar vacuum.

This cold day, I see you young,

a happy, blonde dream on a beach.



Walking and searching the tideline and talking

about finding what we are still seeking.

For now, driftwood, sponge coral, mermaid’s toenails.

Later,  quantum consciousness, alternate realities, the soul.

Intertidal items of value, interest or utility.


I was surprised to find that the first appearance of the word “beachcombers” in print was in Herman Melville’s Omoo: A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas in 1847. Melville used the term to describe a population of Europeans who lived in South Pacific islands, “combing” the beach and nearby water for flotsam, jetsam, or anything else they could use or trade