Sylvia Plath: Poems

Hughes controversy

And here you come, with a cup of tea Wreathed in steam. The blood jet is poetry, There is no stopping it. You hand me two children, two roses.

“ ” from Kindness, written February 1, 1963. Ariel

As Hughes and Plath were legally married at the time of her death, Hughes inherited the Plath estate, including all her written work. Hughes has been condemned repeatedly for burning Plath's last journal, saying he "did not want her children to have to read it."[70] He lost another journal and an unfinished novel and instructed that a collection of Plath's papers and journals should not be released until 2013.[70][71] In the reams of literary criticism and biography published after their deaths, after the release of new material, biopics, or any old-new controversy, the debate over Plath's literary estate is very often reduced to black and white, that is, whose story the readers choose.[72] Hughes has been accused of attempting to control the estate for his own ends, although royalties from Plath's poetry were placed into a trust account for their two children, Frieda and Nicholas.[73][74]

Still the subject of speculation and opprobrium, Hughes published Birthday Letters in 1998, his own collection of 88 poems about his relationship with Plath. Hughes had published very little about his experience of the marriage and Plath's subsequent suicide, and the book caused a sensation, being taken as his first explicit disclosure, and it topped best seller charts. It was not known at the volume's release that Hughes was suffering from terminal cancer and would die later that year. The book went on to win the Forward Poetry Prize, the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry, and the Whitbread Poetry Prize. The poems, written after Plath's death, in some cases long after, are an account of a failure; they circle around a missing centre, trying to find a reason why Plath took her own life.[75]


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