Published in January 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
Few poets’ lives have been as dramatically harrowing as that of Ted Hughes. His wife Sylvia Plath’s suicide in 1963 was followed six years later by the copycat suicide of the woman he had left her for, Assia Wevill, who also killed their daughter. To some feminists, Hughes embodied the patriarchal poet who silenced women’s voices. His accusers did not grasp Hughes’s anguish, though he did not help his case when he admitted to burning the last volume of Plath’s diaries. Only when he was dying did he allow the publication of Birthday Letters (1998), a series of moving poems addressed to Plath that rescued his reputation. Shorn of the mythological clutter of his Crow sequence, these poems spoke with burning clarity.