Eye-Opening Perspectives for Heroic Hearts

Eye-Opening Perspectives for Heroic Hearts

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sylvia Plath, England’s Jubilee Queen and Secret Life of the British Poet Laureate


By Matilda Prouty Kennedy

   “Like Fabian Colbachi, I must speak before I am silenced.  Thank you Winsip Custer” – M.P. Kennedy

     She described her life as lived under The Bell Jar, Jewish, so not like Princess Dianna, but suffocated nonetheless by the Anglophile gurgling of juiced pub pundits pounding out poems like a blacksmith slamming his hammer on a wrought iron door hinge until it's moulded into a predictable design.   An unhinged hinge like a British magistrate in 18th Century Calcutta or in pre-Revolutionary New London, Connecticut.  Rigidly screwed into place between her America and British door and door frame, she sought to removed the shaft that pinned her there through her poetry.    She poeticized everything...her passion for her profligate husband, motherhood, crabs at low tide, little birds with broken wings that her husband tried with her to heal, then gassed. Her father's shadow and a Ouija-wish for a liberator.
     High School honor students who get permission from their parents may read this painful account of a life filled with promise, piercing perception and pain by this talented Jewish-American author.  She  took her own life at thirty-one.  The daughter of a Russian immigrant who escaped the Nazi Holocaust, Sylvia Plath attended Smith College the alma mater of Barbara Pierce Bush, Nancy Reagan, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Julia Child and others closely connected to the dominant Anglo-American-Judeo-Christian and markedly Puritan Protestant New England power elites.  Smith College in the 1930’s was like a lake with deep and dark canyons reserved for the schooling of America’s upwardly mobile.   Like the offspring of the fierce river pike, the fish that feed on the milder species in the shallower waters above, Smith students not unlike their other Ivy League counterparts understand their preparation as America’s leadership elites.  Their preparation in the pond of this inverted bell jar, the shallows of which provide abundant weaker schoolies as a source of nourishment, was meticulously designed and jealously guarded.

     As we now know from Edwin Black’s book, War Against The Weak, Sylvia Plath lived among this element of America’s elite who schooled their offspring in ideologies that gave prior corresponding influence to the military industrialist complex in Nazi Germany.   From this position of prominence came the domination and feeding frenzy of early 20th Century German Nationalism and Mid-Twentieth-Century Fascism which terrorized most Englishmen and inspired some others.  In the U.S., between those two wars two-time Medal of Honor winner, General Smedley Darlington Butler, would signal to the nation the hidden supply lines that these elite predators on both sides of the Atlantic had secretly maintained.  Between these two wars, Butler’s outing of the “Business Plot” in the 1930’s which included the connections of some of America’s leading industrialists to Axis powers coincided with the evolving civil rights and women’s movements. 
     The refusal to allow black singer Marion Anderson to sing the National Anthem at Boston’s historic  Faneuil Hall….an incident that caused Eleanor Roosevelt to resign her membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution…occurred in 1939….one year before some  Yale students protested their families’ refusal to intervene in what was becoming the Nazi Holocaust.

   Sylvia Plath’s mentor at Smith College was Olive Higgins Prouty.   A sister in literature and author of the story that became movie director Hal Wallis’ 1942 film, Now, Voyager,   Prouty had borrowed her title from a Walt Whitman poem…..

       “The untold want by life and land ne’er granted.  Now voyager sail thou forth to seek and find.”

     Unlike Eleanor Roosevelt, Prouty defended her membership in the DAR, perhaps believing she could remain closer to the original vision of American liberty by nurturing students like Plath from within Smith College’s elite circle of women leaders.  Indeed, the Prouty name is a proud one in New England, politically and militarily connected like the outspoken encyclopedic military intelligence officer for JFK, Col. L. Fletcher Prouty.  L. Fletcher Prouty would later provide revealing insights into the Gary Powers U-2 spy plane incident, the unusual handling of the JFK motorcade at Dealy Plaza, the use of U.S. military personnel and equipment for drug smuggling and other little known aspects of life in the U.S. republic.
      Olive Prouty’s Now, Voyager employed actor Bette Davis whose own daughter would later complain on the bell jar under which she lived in Miss Davis’ home. Davis played a clinically depressed Boston Brahman socialite whose mother dominated her life.  Breaking free of her mother’s control Miss Charlotte Vale, a name perhaps chosen because of it close similarity to the Vane family whose historic  connections to both the British power structures and American Revolutionary leadership, Vale nicely veiled the uniquely American psycho-tensions inherent in issues of freedom and authority.
     While Barbara Pierce Bush studied at Smith College, her future husband would attend Yale.   Yale University would become the scene of a student political debate led by one who favored intervention in the war in Europe about which Sylvia Plath’s father knew much.   Pushing intervention was William Gardner “Ted” White, the future tail gunner in George H.W. Bush’s plane, the Barbara II.  White was one of two lost crewmen in Bush's raid over Chichi Jima.  Bush was son of Prescott Bush who FDR's policeman on improper trading arrangements with Germany, Leo Crowley, had ticketed. 
     White and his fellow supporters would be influenced in his Yale years by Louis Nizer who like Sylvia Plath was a prominent Jewish writer who would later become the chief attorney for the Motion Picture Industry of America.  Within twenty years Bostonian JFK would wrestle with the Boston Brahmans changing their iron-clad control of the American political process as his father dated Hollywood starlets like Gloria Swanson while intimidating Winston Churchill with his view on Germany.  The Second World War over for fifteen years, within days of his inauguration John F. Kennedy fought to keep the U.S. out of a full-scale nuclear attack with Russia as expatriate Cubans accused him of abandoning their efforts to reclaim their nation from Fidel Castro.  Twenty years hence and Nancy Reagan’s husband would be faced with Iran-Contra, the brain-child of Barbara Bush’s husband whose involvement in the Bay of Pigs is seen in the CIA operation that bore the name of his oil company, Operation Zapata.

     On November 26, 1942 Now, Voyager director, Hal B. Wallis, had also released the film, Casablanca, starring the Now, Voyager’s male star, Paul Henreid, as Victor Laslo.  Laslo, the exiled French resistance fighter, reminded all Americans of the role the French played not only in rejecting the tyranny of the totalitarian monarchical political systems of Europe, but of the place that the French played in liberating the Americans from the boot of the British Royals.  Tyranny is tyranny regardless of its name.   
     With the shift in the British monarchy from the Tudors to the Stuarts to the House of Orange and House of Hanovers and then toward the German influence of the Saxe-Gotha’s turned Windsors the Europeans were painfully aware of the potential dangers inherent in a Nazi German/British alliance which Joseph Kennedy favored along with a number of American industrialists including  Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone and Averill Harriman whose father had employed Prescott Bush and for whom Robert and Ethel Kennedy's son, Douglas Harriman Kennedy, was named.  
      FDR would recall the Irish-American Ambassador and Boston patriarch whose ambitions were checked and influenced by the more powerful Puritan-Protestant Boston and New England Brahmans who were themselves compromised as FDR's Leo Crowley had proven.   Wallace Simpson’s marriage to the heir of the Saxe-Gotha/Windsor crown, Edward, the Duke of Windsor, along with Rudolph Hess’ midnight flight to the estate of Lord Hamilton, provided clues to the unraveling of any notion of a movement toward democratic rule.   
     Wallace Simpson was a confirmed Nazi spy who had met the Saxe-Gotha-Windsor heir at a hotel in San Diego, California, a key U.S. Navy and Marines training center.  Winston Churchill would see to it that the Duke and his wife rode out the war years in the Bahamas far away from any sphere of British influence. 
     Sylvia Plath’s husband would become the Saxe-Gotha’s personal poet.    Drawing most of his poetic inspiration from the brutality of nature, there was an animal magnetism pulling this talented wordsmith not only toward a bevy of women who had been in many ways victims of the power elites' politics, but toward those power elites who sought justification for the social Darwinism being developed in Germany, the laboratories of Cold Spring Harbor, New York and in the minds of the British monarchists who were having to skillfully tap-dance around popular American ideals that were  increasingly influencing the British and world populace.
    Within this milieu Olive Prouty found, under the broader bell jar,  young Sylvia Plath just as Charlotte Vale would find Christine “Tina” Durrance in Now, Voyager… the sad woman whose life before Paul Henreid’s character of  Jeremiah Duvaux Durrance, was filled with self-doubt fueled by her mother’s priggish paternalism.  Under Prouty’s tutelage  Plath would find her life taking an exhilarating upward rush.  She went to England as a Fulbright Scholar where she met and fell passionately in love with Ted Hughes.

     Plath was also the student of New England Brahman poetry scion, Robert T. Spence Lowell, IV whose family members included Boston’s James Russell Lowell and a bevy of prominent New Englanders of Puritan Protestant and Plymouth Pilgrim descent.  Poet Robert Lowell would shock his mother by joining the Roman Catholic Church and eventually marrying Lady Caroline Maureen Hamilton Temple Blackwood….a name that connects with both Lord Hamilton upon whose estate Hitler’s third in command, Rudolf Hess, crashed his Messerschmidt airplane while on a mission to secure a Nazi-Anglo alliance, and also with Blackwood Magazine for which America’s chief Scottish Rite Mason and chief legal counsel for the American KKK, Albert Pike, was a writer.  Pike was also married to a member of the Hamilton family, Mary Ann Hamilton, but his branch of Masonry, unlike that of the U.S. Founding Fathers, was organized after the American Revolution by the Prussian royal family and exported to the U.S. through Pike.    Adopting the “Scottish” nomenclature in the same way that the Saxe-Gotha clan would adopt the Windsor name to hide its monarchical ideology, Masonry in America bifurcated.  Lady Blackwood was also married to Lucian Freud, the grandson of Austrian Jewish psychiatrist Sigmund Freud, whose breakthroughs in mind-science were being incorporated into everything from the Tavistock Group's global initiatives, to American advertising techniques to CIA mind-control projects like project MK-Ultra.
     In her relationship to Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath’s life brings to a head the battle between genetic predispositioning toward mental illness and environmental issues aggravating, or perhaps implanting, suicidal ideations.
    Time opens many windows and doors and with it can come destructive forces which can ironically let in a great deal of healing light, but not always in time for the benefit of those who have to endure the struggle.  Winston Churchill is reported to have walked through the London rubble following a particularly violent Nazi bombing raid, picked up a shop sign that read “Open” and penned “More Open Than Usual” and tacked it to the shop’s skeletal door frame.  We try to tack some new awareness to Plath’s skeleton, too, but Plath and Hughes’ romance has provided an enigma.  Did her love of Hughes take her career to new heights which she would never have reached on her own?  At what price?

     Erica Jong describes her encounter with the Queen’s poet and Plath’s unfaithful spouse…..
     He was fiercely sexy, with a vampirish, warlock appeal. He hulked. He was tall and his shoulders were broad. His hair fell against his broad forehead. He had a square jaw and an intense gaze and he reeked of virility. Moreover, he knew how irresistible he was in the Heathcliff fashion, and he did the wildman-from-the-moors thing on me full force when we met. He was a born seducer and only my terror of Sylvia's ghost kept me from being seduced.
I remember sitting across a bar table with Ted and his friend Luke while Ted put the poetic moves on me. Knowing I'd want an autographed book, he snatched my copy of Crow and drew, on the title page, a lecherous snake climbing an Edenic tree. "To Erica, a beautiful Surprise," he scribbled flirtatiously, as he must have done with every woman he met. You could inhale the man's pheromones across the table — this stink of masculinity and musk that must have worked on countless girls. His eyes held you in his gaze as if you were the only person on the planet. The only other man I've met who had such intensity was Ingmar Bergman, another born seducer — in the gloomy northern style. Are these men from the cold and gloomy north so sexy because they taunt you with the promise of sex that can melt icebergs? Or is it the intensity of genius that attracts? Genius is a strong aphrodisiac.
     "To quench his thirst I squandered my blood," wrote Plath.  If she was speaking of Hughes as most suspect she bears witness to that adolescent urge to look for Mr. Goodbar only to discover that as a poet his poems are like lace curtains on a slaughter house. 
     Was Ted Hughes like Paul Henreid?  No.  He wasn’t French.  He was English and empowered by the Anglophile lusts that many had come to believe were fueling the American reversion toward the monarchical exclusivity of New England Brahman culture.    That lust bonded the like-minded even during the American Civil War when Boston’s most powerful opium smuggler, Caleb Cushing with his ties to British and American shippers and world-traders conferred with Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his henchman, Roman Catholic Confederate General Albert Pike. Pike wrote, as previously stated, for the Scottish Jacobite anti-Puritan periodical, Blackwood’s Magazine.  He would go on to usurp the leadership of the KKK's founder, General Nathan Bedford Forrest, taking over control of the American KKK and leading it into a more violent direction that Forrest rejected.  Pike was the leading proponent of America’s Tory-aligned Scottish Rite Masonry and is entombed in its Washington D.C. temple.
Gweneth Paltrow as Sylvia Plath
in 2003 movie.

     The Anglo-American alliance included the intricate trading arrangement between the New England and Liverpool-based Brown and Russell families whose involvement in the laying of the U.S. Transcontinental Railroad served their world-wide ambition while employing men like Prescott Bush in their Union Pacific transportation system.   While they domiciled their children at Smith, Princeton, Harvard, Brown or especially Yale, their warehouses held goods needed to rebuild America following its many wars and its Westward expansion toward the lucrative China trade.  The wars were supported by their weapons, chemicals and petroleum.  Today the China trade has culminated in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, regions from which poppy production has always been transported for profit.  Before these conflicts there were similar ones in Korea or Vietnam providing lucrative quarter-mastering opportunities at the spigot of the U.S. tax-dollar pipeline. In time their warehousing spread through the earlier China-trade relationships to Chinese goods funneled through Walmarts across America and around the world with the wholesale relocation of American jobs to  the Orient under the direction of Anglo-American power elites feeding like Pike on milder species and even their own guppies.
     Ted Hughes’ affair with Assia Wevill would hardly add self-assurance to Sylvia Plath’s feelings of inadequacy and entrapment.  Like Plath, Assia Wevill would take her own life and that of her daughter by Hughes, four year old Shura Wevill Hughes.   In the American South, Boll Weevils eradicated entire cotton crops.  What child named “Shura Wevill” would not have heard of this connection by her sixteenth birthday had she lived?  More importantly, Assia Wevill, Jewish like Plath, was also a Holocaust survivor.  Did Hughes prey, like the many subjects of his poetry, on the smaller and weaker for his own pleasure rising from the dark waters... “deep like England”?
     Inherent in their Jewishness, had Plath and Wevill been able to embrace it given the expectations associated with their Fulbright Scholarship honors which originated with J. William Fulbright in Little Rock, Arkansas, the city from which Albert Pike wrote for Blackwood Magazine, was the distrust of monarchs and all of the primogeniture-driven legal machinations upon which the whole British empire and monarchy rested and which the pre-Scottish Rite Masons of America…..Washington, Franklin and the rest…..rejected.  They cared not about strutting the grounds of Balmoral, as had John Brown with Queen Victoria or Ted Hughes with Queen Elizabeth.  They would collectively assign the task of writing out of U.S. law all English first-born favoritism upon which the monarchy depended.  To that task they appointed Thomas Jefferson whose love affair with the French was as unveiled as Hiram Powers’ Greek Slave, but whose relationship with Sally Hemmings was not.  Within less than 100 years a new legal device, the corporation, could insure the return of family dynasties with cross-pond interlocking directorates and global shenanigans, but the U.S. Founding Fathers are forever linked to a passion for crop-topped pyramidal structures where leadership rises, but not to a pin-point.   
     The monarchy, in their opinion,  didn’t need revamping it needed dismantling.  It is this opinion that is used as justification for police-state militaristic silencing of the populace under the guise of controlling communists, socialists and trade unionists, of which the early Masonic stone masons were a part. The Jewish position was the correct one, balancing capitalistic values and incentives with socialistic models of justice under a common egalitarian rule of law. Even the leading German theologians of the mid-Twentieth Century were getting it right.  “Democracy is ordained by God,” said Karl Barth.   Israel’s King David was the last-born son of Jesse, not the first-born.  With this in mind, Oliver Cromwell had repatriated the Jews to England following their exile at the hand of Edward I or Longshanks because the Puritan reformers could envision a form of republican rule and democratic virtues which the monarchy historically bemoaned and which Judaism cherishes to this day and which the Americans had courageously forged.  The Jew's claim that Israel is the only real democracy in a region laced with the dominant values of the old order is essentially correct.
      Ted Hughes’ greatest difficulty as a poet was in finding a voice that could pay respect to the guppies in the shallows and to the larger predators that feed on them at will.  Unlike England’s poet laureate, Tennyson before him, Hughes seemed not to try.  By the time Ted Hughes’ son was born, Jewish American folk singer, Bob Dylan was proclaiming….”Steal a little and they put you in jail.  Steal a lot and they make you a king.”
    Hughes’ influence on his son by Plath, Nicholas Farrar Plath Hughes, a notable Alaskan biologist who unlike his father not only caught fish, but studied their prospects for survival, especially the Alaskan salmon, is noted.  Nicholas’ hobby was pottery.  Molded as he was by the influence of his mother and father, what was he thinking when he, too, took his own life in Fairbanks on March 16, 2009? 
     Before taking her own life on February 11, 1963, Sylvia wrote her last poem “Nick and the Candlestick”:  “O love, how did you get here?  O embryo.  In you, Ruby.  The pain you wake to is not yours.”
     With two women closest to him apparently dead at their own hand, Ted Hughes took over the care of Sylvia’s two children with his third wife, Carol, and surely taught Nicholas about fish and fishing long before he disclosed to the boy the truth of his mother’s death. Representative of Hughe's notable poems is the one titled “Pike”.

              Killers from the egg: the malevolent aged grin.
             Three we kept behind glass, jungled in weed: three inches, four,
             And four and a half: fed fry to them
             Suddenly there were two.  Finally one.

     Jungled in weed.  Under glass.  A bell jar of a deep black abyss where the warrior-poet admired not the pastoral protector of the garden and stream, but the passionless dominator of it, like the name implies….a spear of the warrior or the rails along a highway for turning around the travelers as they make their way on what they thought was an unobstructed journey.  Hughes’ friend and fellow fisherman, Annalisa Barbieri, said that when Hughes wanted to be alone in a pub and dodge the notoriety of his poet laureate honors he would tell people that he was “a farmer”.  That is what all empire builders make of their captives before they devour their culture and them with it.  They turn them into farmers of the soil where they tend and preserve a small plot while the warriors subdue and exploit at will. A self-sustaining existence has no more glamour and excitement for some women than the Bridges of Madison County without the poetic photographer to frame her in the beauty she has long taken for granted and blamed on her familiar farmer who has unselfishly fed her.  We need not be too critical of Plath for her attraction to Hughes.  Everyone has shit on their shirt-tails.  It's just that unlike Prince Harry who appeared at a costume party in a Nazi SS uniform, it usually stays tucked neatly inside.  The most pietistic of the New England Puritans cherished the horror stories of their beloved Edgar Allen Poe and the threatening aspects of Melville's painted cannibal, Queequig, in pursuit with Ishmael, Starbuck and Ahab of the great white whale.  Like the tragic life of Princess Diana, Sylvia Plath serves to remind the world of the dangers of life at the top....or bottom....depending on one's world-view.
     In America, Bostonian Caleb Cushing would lead the charge West first consulting with future Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his Agent for Indian affairs, Albert Pike, whose brutality in the KKK led Nathan Bedford Forrest to leave it in 1869, according to historians Ken Burns and Shelby Foote.  From this triumvirate would come the eclipsing of British naval superiority in the orient by the U.S. fleet and the protection of America drug policy as outlined by Col. L. Fletcher Prouty.  This closed system, more than anything else created the bell jar and social bubble that defines the Plath-Hughes experience.     Cushing’s earliest diplomatic missions to China for the U.S. government while his family walked Boston’s Copley Square, worshipped in the Anglican Trinity Church and admired bronze statues of Sir Henry Vane, with little reflection on the meaning of substituting the old British Empire with the newer American one, fulfilled Ted Hughes’ image of the single-minded pike.
     When years after her death Ted Hughes announced the release of Sylvia Plath’s letters, many wondered if he had not sanitized them for a public which had waited long for some final word from tragic poet.
     Sylvia Plath’s diary which she kept from age 11 to her death and which contained details of her life at Smith College were published in 1982 and titled The Journals of Sylvia Plath.  The book was edited by Frances McCullough and Ted Hughes.  Frances McCullough would also edit a cookbook that has in many ways been compared to Julia Child’s now famous The Art of French Cooking.  Diana Southwood Kennedy’s many books on Mexican cooking are widely available and she reportedly lives in the Mexican area associated with international tourism, San Miguel Allende.
     In 1982 Smith College acquired Plath's remaining journals.  Ted Hughes sealed two of them until February 11, 2013, the fiftieth anniversary of Sylvia’s death and one year after the British queen’s widely promoted and televised golden jubilee.
     Frances McCullough’s editing of Diana Southwood Kennedy’s work has an interesting connection to New England's Protestant Brahman/Catholic  Kennedy pond.  Diana Kennedy’s husband was Paul P. Kennedy, the New York Times reporter whose article on January 10, 1961 disclosed a secret training base in Guatemala that was used to prepare the Bay of Pigs soldiers, code named  “Operation Zapata”  in their attempt to reclaim Cuba from Fidel Castro.  Diana Southwood Kennedy would help to open the Austin, Texas restaurant, Fonda San Miguel, where George Walker Bush reportedly proposed marriage to Laura Welch….a fitting place for a real power meal-deal.

     United States Brigadier General Russell Bowen in his 1991 book, The Immaculate Deception, verifies that George H.W. Bush worked with anti-Castro Cuban groups in Miami before and after the Bay of Pigs invasion using his company, Zapata Oil, as cover for the activities.  Bowen notes that the University of Miami was where the operations were based for many years and that records there indicated that George H.W. Bush was present during this time.  It is widely known that the Bush's Florida compound in at the Ocean Reef Club on Key Largo just down the coast from Palm Beach where Madoff, Trump and the European Royals had partied together, played polo, mixed and mingled.
     Minutes from Diana Southwood Kennedy’s beloved Fonda San Miguel  in Austin, Texas where George Walker Bush proposed marriage, was the office of another noted American poet and thoroughbred in Fran McCullough’s stable. Robert Bly is founder of the mythopoetic men’s movement and author of Iron John: A Book About Men and Light Around the Body which won the 1968 National Book Award for poetry.  Bly, whose name recalls Captain William Bligh, whose role in the Mutiny on the Bounty forever links the name to authoritarian structures, argued that the modern American democratic experiment suffers from a shortage of elder-insights and elder-younger nurturing.  Boys learn to be men from older men and that has been lost in the industrial age, or so Bly argues.
     Bly’s book Sibling Society decried this loss of authoritarian influences in American life and while Bly in 1966 protested American involvement in the Vietnam War and gave money to support the anti-Vietnam War movement.  It is difficult to know if his rejection of the war was an honest rejection of American hypocrisy or a younger Bly’s unintentional furthering  of an authoritarian agenda that Ted Hughes’ British benefactors would have warmly embraced.   King of the mountain is an awful game for those fighting on the slopes.   Was a younger Bly arguing that mature males embrace anti-authoritarianism while an older Bly embraces it?  Then hello Fletcher Christian, move over Captain Bligh!  Perhaps Fran McCullough, as the editor of both Hughes and Bly, has some idea.  Either way a limiting of American Imperialism would have satisfied to some degree both the anti-war movement, America’s enemies and the same Anglo-Austrian-Prussian monarchists who proved so problematic to Churchill and FDR….and come to think of it….to George Washington, John Adams, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, William Davidson and the others.

     Bly’s first wife, Carol, may have had a handle on men from which Sylvia Plath would have benefited.  In 1996 she wrote Changing The Bully That Rules the World, but even this attempt to address the problems of ethics in modern life shows the paradox.  Milkweed, her not for profit publisher, acknowledges the support of the Bush and McKnight Foundations. While Robert Bly, like Sylvia Plath, studied in Europe….Norway and not England….on a Fulbright scholarship, Carol attended the local Smith Ivy League alternative, Wellesley.

     Robert Bly attended St. Olaf University in Minnesota before transferring to Harvard.  St. Olaf University’s motto is the battle cry of the Old Norsemen…the cry of St. Olaf King of Norway:  “Forward! Forward! Men of Christ, Men of the Cross!”……like “Onward Christian Soldier”….a hymn sung by GI’s and Nazi storm troopers alike.
     The Blys are seemingly so far from the fray and yet so close.  Carol Bly has made most of her living from The Loft, an independent writers’ workshop and at a similar programs at the Splitrock Summer Arts Program for the University of Minnesota, Hamline University, Carleton, Ashton and Moorhead State Universities.  The Bush Student Center and McKnight facilities in St. Paul at Hamline University are located on the Pierce Butler Route….named for W.G. Harding appointee to the William Howard Taft Supreme Court, Supreme Court Justice Pierce Butler's heritage is from the neighboring county in Ireland of Pierce Butler, the Southern slave owner whose 1859 divestiture of the largest number of slaves sold on a single day in American history became known as “Weeping Time” and saved the single biggest slaveholder to attend the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention from financial ruin one year ahead of the Civil War from which his  other family members would handsomely profit.  Pierce Butler’s family connections to the Pierce and Percy families are well chronicled.  Archibald Granville “A.G.” Bush and William McKnight were founding members of 3M, Minnesota, Mining and Manufacturing a major supplier of wartime products and the kind of mining devastation that both Robert and Carol Bly decry in their poetry.
Pierce Butler, Minnesota railroad attorney appointed by
W.G. Harding to Chief Justice, William Howward Taft's
Supreme Court. To the right is Pierce Butler from
South Carolina and slaver whose massive sale of slaves in 1859
created "Weeping Time".

    Indeed, William L. McKnight’s daughter would marry the head of another military industrialist supplier, James Binger of Honeywell, previously of Dorsey & Whitney law firm, whose founder Wheelock “Whee” Whitney was a classmate of George Herbert Walker Bush at Phillips Exeter Academy and Yale.  Wheelock’s son, Benson Kelly Whitney would be appointed by George W. Bush as ambassador to Norway following his service as the Bush-Cheney finance chair in Minnesota, an appointment that seemed to compliment the appointment of Swedish American ambassador to Sweden from George W. Bush’s home county in Texas, McClennan, attorney and Scottish Rite Mason, Ambassador Lowell Olson.  Meanwhile, not far from the college where Robert Bly taught, Concordia Lutheran University, was an expert in the Norse and Germanic mythology, Stephen Edred Flowers, a professor in the Austin Community College system.  Flowers, an American Runologist and proponent of occultism and Germanic mysticism often went under the pen name Edred Thorsson advocating esoteric runology and Odanism while succeeding the founder of the Temple of Set, the infamous U.S. military intelligence officer from San Francisco’s Presidio, Col. Michael Aquino, once a key member of Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan.
      It is not that Bly’s belief that men needing a centering authoritarian image is wrong.  The problem is that like Ted Hughes’ throwback to nature as a guiding image, Bly’s belief in some Jungian acorn of a monarch and king includes the likes of Edward I, Henry VIII and the Duke of Windsor.    The Blys may, as Lutherans, point to Jesus Christ as that other worldly king and firstborn of Mary who didn’t act like one, but Jesus hardly fits Hughes’ pike-portrait and Christianity's ultimate mythopoetic image has yet to be truly tried even among the Puritans.  Like Hughes, Bly points to the past to provide a road map for the future.  Darwin, on the other hand, used nature’s past to show us from whence we have come, but not where we are going.
     To their credit, Robert and Carol Bly’s poetry seems not to be in vain.  Robert founded with fellow poet, David Ray, the poets' protest group American Writers Against the Vietnam War in 1966.  The group included Galway Kinnell, W.S. Merwin, Allen Ginsberg, Adrienne Rich, Grace Paley, Douglas Kent Hall and Robert Lowell....all mostly incorporated within a position of privilege from which, not unlike New York's Union Seminary's William Sloan Coffin, they pointed out the moat in the eyes of their close and powerful neighbors.  In the same tradition, Sam Hamill a veteran 1960’s protester like Bly and Ray, founded Poets Against the War in February 2003.  When it was discovered that Hamill and other poets intended to use a White House symposium on the poetry of Dickinson, Whitman and Hughes…..Langston not Ted Hughes…..as an occasion to protest the imminent invasion of Iraq by President Bush, the president’s wife, Laura, cancelled the event.  From what we now know of that war would they push for a new group called Poets for Treason Laws Enacted?  It's not likely.  The Sylvia Plaths of this world are nurturers. Even at the end they lay a glass of milk and cookies at their childrens' bedside.  The Hughes of this world count on that.  They look backwards for their vision and poetic license.
   Poets and historians deal in myth, not reality.  What historian has drawn the connection between Langston Hughes' grandmother's husband, Lewis Sheridan Leary, who joined John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry, to John Brown's connection to his "secret six" including Boston's George Luther Stearns who was trying to corner the lead market with the promised outbreak of Civil War? Or to Alexander Brown and the Brown family's Merchant Shot Tower in Baltimore where James Hamlet, the first black test case of the Fugitive Slave Laws pushed by Pierce Butler was  making musket balls and to which he was returned....returned by a name that's legendary in U.S. intelligence circles....Federal Marshall Talmadge.  What historian has noted the 19th Century mind control and public relations ploy of using a slave named Hamlet to draw attention to a law guaranteed to fuel the flames of war by the profiteers?  What historian or poet has drawn connections between the first Federal soldier on the scene at Harper's Ferry, John Ewell Brown Stuart,  to the Brown and Stuart clans of Baltimore, Boston, New York and Edinburgh or to the Jacobite Stuarts buried in the Vatican and surely aligned with Albert Pike or to the absence of the same JEB Stuart from battles that parallels the military record of General Braxton Bragg sending Shelby Foote's most celebrated military hero on either side of the conflict, Nathan Bedforest Forrest, into a rage?   Foote respected Forrest presumably not just for the loyalty of even the blacks in his company, nor for his great military mind, but for his early assessment of the whole charade that didn't require the premature ending of the incomplete period of Reconstruction to figure out.  An American Civil War would have been in the British monarchy's interest and for all of James Russell Lowell's love of the beautiful songbird, the Bobolink, wisdom dictated that wise old owls in their power elite packs....British and American war profiteers together....devour America's song of freedom, liberty and justice.  Owls eat songbirds like the pike eats its own.  Could it be that Sylvia Plath's dirges and dark depressions were much more than some genetic predispositioning and manic rocket shot that fizzles, plunges, crashes and burns?

    Ronald Hayman's book, The Death and Life of Sylvia Plath in a chapter titled "Boston", speaks at length of Hughes' and Plath's interest in the occult.  Hayman also covers her interest in living in William Butler Yeat's home in London at 23 Fitzroy Street.  W.B. Yeats: A Life by R.F. Foster explores Yeat's relationship to the progenitor of Western occultism embraced by everyone from L. Ron Hubbell of The Church of Scientology, to the Kaballa movement, to Anton LeVay and Col. Michael Aquino.  Winston Churchill's refusal to allow Crowley to interview Rudolf Hess after his plane crash on the Hamilton estate is well documented as is Yeat's confrontations with Crowley over the leadership of occultism in England.

(L) 23 Fitzroy Street, London.  Home of W.B. Yeats where Plath died.
(Center) Foster's 1997 book on Yeats with coverage of his relationship to
Aleister Crowley and occult. (R) Ronald Hayman's book,
The Death and Life of Sylvia Plath which covers the couples'
occultist interests in the chapter "Boston".
     Olive Prouty, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Assia Wevill and her daughter Shura and now Nicholas Plath are all characters in an Anglo-American tragedy, but one that has its counterpart in every society.  That tragedy rivals, no eclipses, the histories of the Medici and Borgia's... Napoleon and the Hapsburg's.   Beneath the shallows lies the darker waters from which ascends the cannibal carnivores invoking a vision of liberty and freedom which they, all the while, intend to devour.

No comments:

Post a Comment