Results of the T.S. Eliot Prize in the year 1998.
Formerly Poet Laureate to Queen Elizabeth II, the late Ted Hughes (1930-98) is recognized as one of the few contemporary poets whose work has mythic scope and power. And few episodes in postwar literature have the legendary stature of Hughes’s romance with, and marriage to, the great American poet Sylvia Plath.
The poems in Birthday Letters are addressed (with just two exceptions) to Plath, and were written over a period of more than twenty-five years, the first a few years after her suicide in 1963. Some are love letters, others haunted recollections and ruminations. In them, Hughes recalls his and Plath’s time together, drawing on the powerful imagery of his work—animal, vegetable, mythological—as well as on Plath’s famous verse.
Countless books have discussed the subject of this intense relationship from a necessary distance, but this volume—at last—offers us Hughes’s own account. Moreover, it is a truly remarkable collection of pems in its own right.