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The New Statesman publishes a previously unseen work by the late poet laureate.
Tags: Sylvia Plath Ted Hughes poetry Books
I don't care for Ted Hughes, but I absolutely adore Sylvia Plath and I want to read everything that has to do with her.
Nice to see that poetry lover P. Muldoon (first post, above) is so comfortable with using basic punctuation.
and by the way Newstatesman, i don't mind your thinking of posting a super thread of of your idea of a super poet, but deleting comments is quite David Cameron on youtube DavidCamerononline. If I see this performance of shit again, it might make be annoyed.
But I am puzzled.
I feel sad for people wjho jump into the middle of converstions and shoot off their mouth. The reason that there were so many negative comments is because people spoke about things they knew nothing about. Sylvia was ahead of her time in her writing and that worried her mother. She was used by men and quite honestly depressed and in need of help. She did not get the right quality of help and so she was still suffering from depression after she was relesed. She fell in love with Ted Hughes and ultimately surpassed him in the literary world. I love Hughes , but it takes a special kind of personl to leave your wife and family for another woman. Furthermore, to then turn around and sleep with your wife knowing that you have no intention of working things out is altogether special. Knowing that she has struggled with depression though is just downright low. so while you can feel sorry and even love hughes you should realize that he had faults just as all humans do and that maybe at that moment in his life he was not the person he should have been. Also to call Sylvia selfish and self absorbed. I think battling the demons she was dealing with and the care she took to keep her children safe and unharmed shows she was the complete opposite of either of those adjectives. And WWP should check his facts.
...but not to leave you, you are me. torys are not, no matter how they want me, especially shoving their sexy blonde wooman towards my cock,
Reading these posts makes me appreciate why Hughes sat on this poem, and only published 'Birthday Letters' at the very end of his life.
A selfish, self-involved, self-indulgent navel-gazer with daddy issues offed herself leaving her kids without a mother because the world revolved around her and it wasn't paying enough attention for her liking. Really, is there anything more to know...
And there's something in her measured, controlled tone that invites this way of understanding. It's one of the reasons that awful film sucked so much.
To the one, to those I love, I give my death. I give it as a gift that cannot be returned. Potlach.
ok, so Linda watered down her hair from this perfectly lovely display from her distant grandmother, in a local celtic carnival, several hundred years ago, 1980s..., maybe,
I personally don’t think Hughes wrote this supposedly new saccharine little poem, especially this cloying stanza:
“My numbed love life with its two mad needles
embroidering their rose,
piercing and tugging at their tapestry,
their bloody tattoo somewhere behind my navel
treading that morass of emblazon.
Two mad needles crisscrossing their stitches,
selecting among my nerves for their colors ...
Two women, each with her needle.”
Since when did ‘macho’ Hughes ever write about embroidery or crisscossing stiches or women with needles? This stanza sounds like it was written by a Dido Merwin clone, unremitting in her pettiness, possessiveness and harridan hostilities that she attributes to Plath. (In an appendix to Stevenson’s Bitter Fame, Dido Merwin wrote a nasty lengthy memoir entitled “Vessel of Wrath: A Memoir of Sylvia Plath.”)
The talented, fantastic woman that Sylvia Plath was, Ted's wife, needed Ted's help and he didn't help her.
It would have been better of him had he included this poem in Birthday Letters because out of all, it's the only one that shows him up honestly for the weak, irresponsible man that he was. I think it's awful that they ever met one another - Sylvia's relationship with her father was complex enough and she needed a man by her side who would be a support and aid to her, someone who could also, believe in and help her grow as a poet.Ted was none of those things because he first, eclipsed her with his poetry and then betrayed her.
And then was too much of a coward to tell people just to what extent he betrayed her.
Plath was suicidal because of depression, not self-involvement. She fought a life-long battle with clinical depression and it ultimately got the best of her.
Your remarks are not just ugly, they're ignorant and entirely off-base.
Why critasize both extremely talented people when we should be sympathising with hughes' sadness and enjoying his works, and of course Plath's works.
Yes, WWP, there is much more for you to know, apparently, about sever depression and about electroconvulsive therapy accidentally administered without anesthesia.
If Sylvia Plath would have been born 30 years later she could have benefited from medication and treatment that could have perhaps saved her life.
To call her selfish and self indulgent just shows that you have zero experience of mental illness...
She was both brilliant,tragic but above all clearly mentally ill-not something you can snap out of....
Yes-your remarks are ignorant,off base and malicious...
PHILIP MULDOON-I am not one of the 'tabloid feminists' as you so eloquently put it but apparently you are perfectly willing to vilify Sylvia Plath's memory-how about both of them 'resting in peace'...
I just read the poem, and I'm not sure it reveals much of anything except a poetic expression of confusion, helplessness, and irony. Perhaps I need to read it more carefully. I presume that "Susan" is a name for Assia, the woman Ted Hughes was involved with when he left Plath. That he had kept his old flat and slept with Assia the night of or before Plath's suicide in the same bed he and Plath had spent their wedding night is rather ghastly, on the face of it. But that's the way things happen. Obviously, Assia was merely the "transition" relationship (unfortunately for her). I suspect that Ted was essentially kicked out of their rural cottage when Plath found out about his affair, and went, because he had laid the groundwork for someone to flee to, and because Plath was impossible to live with after she knew, and probably before as well. I don't think it's a great poem, but it's a long one. It also seems to reveal that there was a third suicide, that of Helen, owner of an overprotective Alsatian dog. Helen is mentioned in the Unabridged Journals. Here is a link to something I found about Assia and the weeks right after Plath's death: http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/1999/apr/23/features11.g21
pricecasillo.medication is not always the answer, self-perception is always the best, and ones around you to realise that. Medication is a dungeon, not to be entered on a doctorial whim.
They both were great poets. It is wrong that TH should be blamed for SP's suicide. The way he bore everything all these decades I think he was a very likeable and respect worthy man. He suffered greatly at the hands of people who judged him who had not an iota of an idea what kind of man he really was. These people remind me of the frightful sheep in George Orwell's Animal Farm.
SP had already tried to kill herself as we all know.
About fifty percent of the marriages in the US is said to fail. Some people may kill themselves when a relationship doesn't work. But you can't blame the other spouse for that.
Besides, you and I don't know what was really happening in their house. For example, you and I don't know if SP herself was not sleeping around too.
Has Stan thought of it?
"The Fortune of Stan Maslowski" et al.
Oh bloody hell. The bastard is dead and yet he's STILL milking it.
For all who think he was the greatest poet ever, boo-hoo, boo-ho.. two women died because of him.
And yes. That's an evil feminist saying that.
An additional comment I would like to make is that, in my opinion, Plath was more original and precise with images of the world and with depictions of states of mind than Hughes, which may have made her slightly less accessible in general, but gosh, what a vocabulary she had!
Ted Hughes was obviously in bed with Vivienne Haigh-Wood Eliot that fateful night—working on his next book for Faber.
I think Ted Hughes is using this poem as a way of repentance for everything
bad he did to his wife. And she was unable to live without his love because
of her complex background.
It is so amazing how powerful poetry can be. Years after their deaths we are still provoked by Ted's and Sylvia's story. This last letter is not putting it to rest. As long as information from the archives is still being released we will continue to debate. The sooner this information is released to the public the sooner we will accept this beautiful drama.
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Notice the old woodwork, pissing their various oils out of their trunk, precious to them and only.
One feels to tell them and fuck off, until their influence does not, whoo, act like a fool.
Today IS tomorrow. I want to read the poem.
tidy, self indulgent irish catholic agreement, tidy.
Did anyone stop to think that this letter could have been forged and placed into the library. "Missing links" and other juicy findings are the Holy Grail for forgery artists like the one that forged the Emily Dickinson letter described in, "The Poet and the Murderer". That guy was so good that only rock solid provenance could have beat him. The poets widow has motive as renewed interest in the poet sells books. Maybe I was an investigator too long and am outrageously suspicious; but I would love to work this one.
I too have read the poem and its like a box of secrets... Plath wrote Hughes a last letter which was so explosive to him that he compares it to ECT... He claims that if he hadnt been able to see her it would have rearranged his brain for the rest of his life. But he gets it in time and goes to see her, and she greets him in tears that he doesnt understand (does she want his forgivemness?), and then she 'calmly' burns the letter itself. He leaves and spends the weekend with Susan Alliston, even sleeping with her in the same bed that he had slept in with Plath on their wedding night...
So what was it in the letter that was so distressing to him? Ive wondered about this. Was it a) the news that she loved him, or b) the news that she would take a terrible revenge on him? Surely its the second...
But they have a kind of pact of secrecy, in which the lives of their children are bound up... there are two people who will be unable not to choose infidelity and mutual misunderstanding as a future subject of their work... but how far will they go in what they choose to say? It seems that there is an agreement that each will say nothing about the other.
It also seems that the act of burning the letter is a way of saying that their marriage is utterly finished and that each is free, and the poem bears this out because Hughes then goes through a weekend of funeral rites for it, but somehow free to do this.
What a chinese box of a poem, with a mystery in the middle, and a mystery reduced to ashes.
It reminds me of a poem by a real genius, Dane Zajc, called 'solitude encounters' which ends 'since what is ash but disintegrated solitude...'. I know for a fact that Ted Hughes knew this poem and deeply admired it.
What I find distressing in the whole affair, however, is the absence of their children, and their absence in his frame of reference.
its an exposure, like he says, framing a secret. Ah, the allure of the Plath/Hughes story...
Any further thoughts?
Arsoles, as Hitchcock may have said - is Murdoch playing his games here too, it look like it, to me.
NewStatesman, are there braincelless, SE lesser school educated decendents involed with this post? Becuae it bloody well seems so. Or worse, friends?
SE lesser schooled, as in in crap paid schools, by the fucking way, decendents, Brighton,
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What a fascinating sequence of comments. Believe it or not, I just finished reading The Bell Jar this morning and then I spotted the article about the poem in today's Seattle Times. What a coincidence. Now I am avidly reading further.
My reading of The Bell Jar is long overdue. Little did I realize that Sylvia was in fact almost my contemporary - growing up in Boston, attending college in New England, going to work in a big city.
and their strontium-90 track should be a classic to artists anywhere, but maybe not...
A lot of you are blaming Hughes for her suicide, but if you look back at her past, she'd attempted it a few times before then, even before Hughes when she took the sleeping pills. Yes I believe Hughes leaving her was a reason which led to the collapse in the fight against depression, but I also think that there was a high chance of her killing herself anyway just given her past. Just look at her poem 'Lady Lazarus'.
That said I believe they were both outstanding poets, and the only thing that vilifying either of them does is make it harder for the people who knew and loved them. Check out 'Readers' by Frieda Hughes
nobody is totally unconfused...
I think that it's a bit hilarious to say that Hughes was one of the greatest poets ever - what a joke that is. He was middling at best in my view; this attempt at a poem mostly just shows his own ego and self-absorption. Also, he may or may not have grieved over Sylvia Plath, but he clearly did not help her in her time of need. She was clinically depressed and he could have helped her. He and his supporters seem endlessly determined to justify his poor behavior. I'd say it's saddest that several women killed themselves over him.
A lot of the discussion surrounding "Ted and Sylvia" is a hybrid of conjecture, speculation, popular romanticizing and gossip, plain and simple. A lot of it also belongs to radical feminism versus the response of the political right. Be wary about taking a poet's autobiography at face value. My take on Ted Hughes' poem is that the details of what happened that night are still hidden.
Ah yes, Sylvia and Ted... Eastenders for the intellectuals.
A fragment of Hugh's last Peom found in a Best of Men Only by Melyvn Bragg.
The bitch croaked
and people think I am a joke
Even farkin Larkin is dark
Like a croakin crow in the park.
but this ain't bad, in a tory dputhe england self-patronising way, to give tneir focks to give any exscuse to carry on with their attempted try to win Wimbledon tennis, and what the fuck are they doing down in Henley with their sea-sick rowing boats, total tossers,
Five Leaves Publications (www.fiveleaves.co.uk) has published Susan Alliston's "Poems and Journals 1960-1969" under the Richard Hollis imprint. The book includes an introduction by Ted Hughes, written in 1970.
??, calm down - so he attracted that sort of women - have you thought he might have been soft to take these vulnerable women in?
such a clattering of nonsense and personal agendas.
what a poem. so overwhelming, so distressing, and so in need of further listening, further reading, and thought.
the rest is, and should be, silence.
by the way the siver that is spread these days is put your mobile phone down now, if you known what I mean,
I gave up using a mobile phone and all their sisters years ago, and I think clear, unlike some.
Daniel Trilling is the Editor of New Humanist magazine. He was formerly an Assistant Editor at the New Statesman.