THIS HAS been one of the big literary bombs of the week: The poet, Ted Hughes’ long-lost poem “Last Letter” was published today in The New Statesman, BBC4 reported earlier this week. The poem directly addresses the suicide of his wife, the writer Sylvia Plath:
Late afternoon Friday
my last sight of you alive
burning your letter to me
in the ashtray
with that strange smile
The poem explicitly recounts the news of his wife’s death — something Hughes declined to discuss publicly or address in his work — these are the lines that close the poem.
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.
According to the L.A. Times book blog, “Jacket Copy”
The poem was found in the British Library archive by The New Statesman and Carol Hughes, the poet’s widow.
To hear actor Jonathan Pryce read the Hughes poem, click here.