November 3, 2010

Last Letter to Sylvia Plath From Ted Hughes

Hughes and Plath 1957
"Last Letter" is a previously unknown poem by Ted Hughes, about the night his estranged wife Sylvia Plath killed herself.

Birthday Letters: PoemsHughes published 88 poems years ago in Birthday Letters, but said that some of the poems were “too personal to publish.”

Last month, Hughes’ papers including letters and unpublished poems were acquired by the British Library.

One poem was “Last Letter” to Sylvia. It deals with the story of her death, including her “Last Letter” to him. That was actually a suicide note that was mailed too early and caused him to go to her. She ended up going through with the suicide later anyway.

"What happened that night, inside your hours
Is as unknown as if it never happened....

And I had started to write when the telephone
Jerked awake, in a jabbering alarm,
Remembering everything. It recovered in my hand.
Then a voice like a selected weapon
Or a measured injection,
Coolly delivered its four words
Deep into my ear: 'Your wife is dead.'"

Hughes was appointed the UK's poet laureate in 1984.

There are a number of articles online about the poems including one from the http://www.newstatesman.com and in this video report you can hear a portion of the poem read.

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