Note: this is part of a chapter from my completed manuscript, ‘Capriccio’, a fictional biography of Assia Gutmann Wevill, the woman who came between the poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath Smell of Burning Tel Aviv 1935 – 1946 You wore the sign of lightning to ward off lightning – Ted Hughes, Smell of Burning Assia’s memories refuse to leave her in peace that night. In her mind, she is a child again, back in Berlin, re-living the time when all her safeties had been stripped away. She remembers how, late one cold night, she and her parents and little sister board a train out of Berlin. Vati is carrying two huge suitcases with their most precious possessions. Assia and Celia each clutch their one permitted plaything: Assia a book of Grimm’s fairy tales, Celia a white fluffy rabbit. There’d been a tantrum when Celia’s first choice, an almost life-size teddy bear, was decreed too large to take with her. Assia feels the fear in the air, and hides under the carriage seat […]
A Link to Ein Gedi Was Hughes personifying his lover, Assia Wevill, as the mythical Leopard? In many of the poems in his sequence, ‘Capriccio’, from which I’ve taken the title of my novel-in-progress, he describes Assia as a predatory animal, yet sometimes he’s tender too.