09 October 2010

The Observer Reports...

Robert McCrum of The Observer reports on Ted Hughes' poem "Last Letter."

Click here to read "Ted Hughes's final lines to Sylvia Plath bring closure to a tragic tale."


Update: Paul Vallely at the Independent also contemplates Ted Hughes' "Last Letter" to Sylvia Plath in his "A last letter seared in fierce flames"


panther said...

Mistakes a-plenty in this Independent article. No, no, no, the grave is no longer "routinely defaced." Was it ever ? A few times in the 1980s. I've never heard of Hughes' name being daubed or chiselled ONTO it , either. I thought the whole intention of the defacers was to REMOVE his name.

Lazy journalism involving seriously-old cuttings and (probably) a conversation in the pub with other journalists who are also misinformed.

I got the impression from the snippets of this poem that I have heard that yes, it does read more like a bit of private diary. If Hughes had wanted it to appear before, probably in BIRTHDAY LETTERS, presumably it would have been ? I suspect he himself felt it was too raw for widespread dissemination.

Peter K Steinberg said...

Hi Panther!

I caught many of those mistakes too. Very frustrating. I find the idea of someone putting back the HUGHES on the headstone funny. I think where Vallely wrote "on the granite" he must've meant off. I suppose in this rush-to-print/post society mistakes like this (and the others evident in the articles) are a given. I'd rather have delayed but well written news services!

Did anyone read Al Alvarez's comments in the Saturday Review of The Guardian? If anyone has the print copy could you consider photocopying it or scanning it? I wasn't able to find this online but of course am interested in reading it, too.

I agree that this poem was left out of Birthday Letters for a reason. Hughes thought many of these BL (as a series, inclusive of those he chose to not include or not complete) poems to be too raw. There must be (there are) more "unfinihsed" poems like this and it comes to no surprise that this poem "Last Letter" is the first to appear.

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