The course – Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath and Lumb Bank.

I found some more  of my photographs of the house at Lumb Bank, the Church and Sylvia Plath’s grave at Heptonstall,  all very poignant. Well what is poetry for but to feed the spirit and all the poems mentioned in this post certainly did that today.


The house, the view. the church and the grave.

Poetry course at the Friends Centre – Brighton  and more about Arvon

In this session we were looking at the poetry of  Ted Hughes, as part of the Sussex Uni’s Poetry Course with John McCullough.  We take it in turns to present information on each poet that  John has selected to study.  There’s lots of information on the net of course, but it is great when it is distilled and presented in an interesting way. The discussions that follow are always lively.

We learned a lot about Ted Hughes’ early childhood, the passions that influenced his poetry, particularly those relating to the natural world,  fish and animals and of course poetry connected to his marriage to Sylvia Plath which ended so tragically.

We had five poems to read and I particularly liked ‘The Pike’,  ‘Thistles’ and ‘Wind’,   these also gave us inspiration for our own work.

When I got  home I looked up some of the poems I had studied earlier.  Ted Hughes’ ‘How to paint a water lily’ so gentle and then Sylvia Plath’s ‘Balloons’ and ‘Polly’s Tree’.  All these poems tune into a tenderness, which was something that they must have shared.

It is said that Plath was depressed about Ted Hughes adultery, was having trouble coping with two very young children, on her own and was feeling physically unwell.  It sounds as though she was more or less operating as a single parent. Obviously she was not lacking for  money, but for some mothers the pressures of childcare are not easy,  so it is no wonder so many women can identify with her.

I stayed in Ted Hughes’ house in the summer once, on an Arvon course, but despite the fact that I have always loved the people of Yorkshire, places such as Scarborough, Bronte country and the moors,  I could not imagine even one winter in that particular house, the landscape is beautiful but in winter it would be freezing and the outlook misty and so very bleak.


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