Ted Hughes: The Shadow of Sylvia Plath

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As England’s Poet Laureate, and recipient of both the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry and T.S. Eliot’s prize for poetry, Ted Hughes was an acclaimed poet. The shadow of Hughes late wife, Sylvia Plath, kept Hughes stagnant in his career, in which he was known as “Her Husband” (Middlebrook). Hughes most recent collection of poems, Birthday Letters, took him over twenty-five years to write, and contains poems which recount the marriage of the couple. Hughes wrote the poems as a loving gesture towards Sylvia, but the poems were misinterpreted as “an attempt to adjust the public record in the wake of her confession and the mass of commentary which has grown up around them” (Spurr 3). Hughes incorporated into his poetry the ideals of postmodernism, his somber life and relationships, simplistic formatting, imagery, and allusions. Hughes influenced the world through his animal images and multifarious tones. Ted Hughes life started in Mytholmroyd Yorkshire, in 1930, where he learned to appreciate the outdoors. Mytholmroyd was a rural mountainous region; Hughes and his brothers occupied their time in the wilderness, which later influenced Hughes’ writings about animals. At age 15, Hughes started writing his first poems at Mexborough Grammar School. As a result of poetry, Hughes obtained a full scholarship to study English at Cambridge University, although he later changed his major to Anthropology. On first glance, Cambridge University may not have seemed to influence Hughes poetry, however, in retrospect, it did influence his marital relationships. After graduation, Hughes met Sylvia Plath, whom he married after a four month period. Hughes and Plath had a troubled relationship and had difficulty in the parenting of their two children... ... middle of paper ... ...uages and Literature - Courses." Brock University, Niagara Region, 500 Glenridge Ave., St. Catharines, Ont. L2S 3A1 Canada. 30 Apr. 2008. Web. 3 Jan. 2010. . Middlebrook, Diane. Her Husband: Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath--A Marriage. Boston: Penguin (Non-Classics), 2003. Print. Paul, Sharla. "A New View of Ted Hughes." Emory Magazine Spring 2000: 1. Print. Spurr, Barry. "True confessions? Ted Hughes’ Birthday Letters." The University of Sydney. Web. 3 Jan. 2010. . "Ted Hughes ." Poetry Archive. Web. 3 Jan. 2010. . Wagner, Erica. Ariel's Gift: Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, and the Story of Birthday Letters. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2002. Print.
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