Ted Hughes - Fulbright Scholars
Why this poem?
Much has been written about the ultimately doomed relationship between Ted
Hughes and Sylvia Plath which ended with her suicide in 1963. In 1998, 25
years after her death, Ted Hughes published 'Birthday Letters' which was
his attempt to explain their relationship. This is the first poem in
the book and tells of the first time he became aware of her. I like
the poem as it relates the random way we become aware of things, meeting people
completely by chance that we then think "How could my life have ever been
complete if I'd never this person?"
Where was it, in the Strand? A display
Of news items, in photographs.
For some reason I noticed it.
A picture of that year's intake
Of Fulbright Scholars. Just arriving -
Or arrived. Or some of them.
Were you among them? I studied it.
Not too minutely, wondering
Which of them I might meet.
I remember that thought. Not
Your face. No doubt I scanned particularly
The girls. Maybe I noticed you.
Maybe I weighed you up, feeling unlikely.
Noted your long hair, loose waves -
Your Veronica Lake bang. Not what it hid.
It would appear blond. And your grin.
Your exaggerated American
Grin for the cameras, the judges, the strangers, the frighteners.
Then I forgot. Yet I remember
The picture : the Fulbright Scholars.
With their luggage? It seems unlikely.
Could they have come as a team? That's as I remember.
From a stall near Charing Cross Station.
It was the first fresh peach I had ever tasted.
I could hardly believe how delicious.
At twenty-five I was dumbfounded afresh
By my ignorance of the simplest things.