Sylvia Plath’s Cows


Whilst she was at Cambridge University in the 1950s Sylvia Plath began making pen & ink drawings. They were rarely seen until they appeared in an exhibition at the Mayor Gallery, London in 2011 and now there is a book, Sylvia Plath: Drawings. 


Yesterday, right after lunch, I took my sketch-paper and strode out to the Grantchester Meadows where I sat in the tall grass amid cow dung and drew two cows; my first cows. They sat obligingly while I drew the first, couchant, its head very cowish, but its body, more like a horesehair sofa, very flat and unmodeled; then, suddenly, they all got hungry and got up in a drove; I think they were bulls; they seemed to have no udders. So I forged ahead, sat down on the river brink, and did a quick sketch of one grazing, or, rather, of several put into one, as they all moved continually, so the side muscles are all wrong, but most decorative; I got a kind of peace from the cows; what curious broody looks they gave me; what marvelous colossal shits and pissings. I shall go back soon; I shall do a volume of cow-drawings.

It’s nice to think of Sylvia drawing in a field of cows and cow parsley down by the riverside, but I don’t think she ever did a whole volume of them.

Read more about her drawings on the Brain Pickings website.

Frames of reference

One thought on “Sylvia Plath’s Cows”

  1. Oh these are lovely. A shame she didn’t do a volume. Obviously I can completely empathise with her fascination 🙂 ‘I got a kind of peace from the cows;’ – I know what she means!

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