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Unearthed Ted Hughes Poem Tells of Sylvia Plath Suicide

'What happened that night?' asks tormented husband
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2010 4:06 AM CDT
Updated Oct 7, 2010 7:00 AM CDT
Unearthed Hughes' Poem Tells of Sylvia Plath Suicide
American poet Sylvia Plath gassed herself in 1963.   (AP Photo, file)

(Newser) – A newly discovered poem by Sylvia Plath's husband reveals Ted Hughes' agonizing struggle to come to terms with his young wife's 1963 suicide. It's the first Hughes' poem known to directly address the circumstances surrounding the death of the famous American writer wracked by depression. "Then a voice like a selected weapon / or a carefully measured injection / coolly delivered its four words deep into my ear / your wife is dead," reads one version of the poem, "The Last Letter." The sad news that his estranged wife and mother of their two young children had gassed herself came to Hughes in a phone call.

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"What happened that night? Your final night," Hughes writes in the first line of the poem, which chronicles the last days of Plath's life. The work, published in today's issues of the New Statesman, is being called the "missing link" in Hughes 1998 poetry collection The Birthday Letters, which details his relationship with Plath. Several versions of the re-worked poem were discovered by British novelist and media personality Melvyn Bragg in the British Library with the help of Hughes' widow, Carol, reports the Guardian. Hughes died in 1998; his son with Plath, Nicolas Hughes, committed suicide last year.
(Read more Ted Hughes stories.)

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