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Famous Poet Sylvia Plath's Husband Honored, Amid Objections

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By Brent Woodie, Christian Post Contributor
December 7, 2011|5:49 pm

Poet Ted Hughes, the ex-husband of late poet Sylvia Plath, is being honored with a memorial stone in Poet's Corner.

Poets' Corner is the name traditionally given to a section of the South Transept of Westminster Abbey in England because of the number of poets, playwrights, and writers buried and commemorated there.

Hughes is joining other noted British literary figures, including the Father of English Literature.

Hughes was an English poet and children's writer, who was considered one of the best poets of his generation. He was British Poet Laureate from 1984 until his death in 1998.

Since many remember Ted Hughes as the husband who drove Sylvia Plath to suicide, the honor is being met with skepticism.

Suffering with depression, and with a history of suicide attempts, Plath took her own life in 1963, although it is unclear whether she meant to ultimately succeed.

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After Plath’s death many critics blamed Hughes, who was reported to abandon and belittle his wife, who he left five months prior to her death.

Hughes was devastated. In a letter to an old friend of Plath's from Smith College, he wrote, "That's the end of my life. The rest is posthumous."

The couple’s troubled marriage was portrayed in the 2003 film “Sylvia” starring Gwyneth Paltrow, as Plath, and Daniel Craig, as Hughes.

The blow to Hughes’ reputation in some quarters worsened when the woman he left Plath for, Assia Wevill, killed herself and their four-year-old daughter in 1969.

As a result of these tragic events, Hughes decided to publish his last work, "Birthday Letters," a collection of poems about his fraught, fragile relationship with Plath.

The book became a best seller in Britain and the United States, rare for a book of poetry, and was a personal turning point for Hughes.

In 2010 it was announced that Hughes would be commemorated with a memorial in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.

Hughes' memorial stone bears lines from "That Morning", a poem recollecting the epiphany of a huge shoal of salmon flashing by as he and his companion waded a stream in Alaska: "So we found the end of our journey / So we stood alive in the river of light / Among the creatures of light, creatures of light."

 

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