'Unseen' Ted Hughes poem on wife Sylvia Plath's suicide is published



2015-06-26 12:04:33

'Unseen' Ted Hughes poem on wife Sylvia Plath's suicide is published

A newly-published poem by the late British Poet Laureate adds a new chapter to the couple's legacy...

Public fascination in the legacies of poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath has often focussed on their doomed relationship as much as their respective works.

And now a "missing link" from their real-life drama has been unearthed, with the publication of a never-before-seen poem by Hughes (1930-1998) entitled Last Letter.

Hughes's work describes Plath's (1932-1963) final days before his first wife,whose writings included novel The Bell Jar,took her own life in 1963 aged just 30.

Last Letter opens with the line: "What happened that night? Your final night" and ends with the moment Hughes is informed of his wife's death.

The piece has been published in the latest edition of UK magazine the New Statesman. It was found in Hughes's archive at the British Library after being pointed-out by the poet's second wife, Carol.

However, the magazine has described the poem as a "missing link" because the work doesn't directly address the circumstances of Plath's death.

The late poet Sylvia Plath, and Ted Hughes's writings on their relationship in Birthday Letters

According to experts, the work fits in with Hughes's Birthday Letters, the award-winning series which chronicles his relationship with Plath.

Unsurprisingly given that Plath's life and literary career ended so soon, the poet - once described as a "symbol of blighted female genius" - is a favourite of collectors.

In July 14, 2009, Sotheby's in London auctioned Plath's The Colossus (Heinemann, 1960) for 17,500. It had been signed by Plath on her birthday to her school English teacher.

It auctioned alongside two early manuscripts by the author, which sold for 5,000, and an illustrated typescript poem in the form of a handmade "get well" card which brought 4,000.

Meanwhile, autographs by Hughes - popularly regarded as England's greatest living poet at the time of his death in 1998 - have attracted estimates of tens of thousands at auction.

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