Benidorm: Poets’ Paradise

Although no longer noted for the density of its poet population, there was a time when Benidorm was considered an ideal destination to compose an ode or two; so much so that it was the idyllic choice of poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath to taste nuptial honey under a Valencian moon.

Married on June 16th, 1956 in the Church of St. George the Martyr, Queen Square, London, they spent the rest of that summer in and around Benidorm, staying at Calle Tomás Ortuño 59, at an address now occupied by an octopus restaurant.

While there, Plath was inspired to put pen to paper, admiring the cobblestones of Alicante and the melons of Benidorm:

“In Benidorm there are melons, Whole donkey-carts full Of innumerable melons, Ovals and balls, Bright green and thumpable”.

In her poem ‘The Beggars of Benidorm’ Market she describes Benidorm as it must have appeared then

“Nightfall obscures

The bay’s sheer, extravagant blue,

White house and almond grove”.

She also sketched a great deal, sketches which were recently published in book format by her surviving daughter with Hughes (her son, like she, committed suicide).

Writing to her on mother, Plath once said of the sketches:

“Wait till you see these few of Benidorm—the best I’ve ever done in my life, very heavy stylized shading and lines; very difficult subjects, too…I feel I’m developing a kind of primitive style of my own which I am very fond of”.

Hughes himself, who provoked her suicide by running off with another woman, also remembered her sketches with tardy affection:

“When you drew the market at Benidorm.

I sat near you, scribbling something.

Hours burned away. The stall-keepers

Kept coming to see you had them properly.

We sat on those steps in our rope-soles,

And were happy…”

sylvia_plath_drawings

 

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