Kim's Reviews > Birthday Letters

Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes
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Nov 15, 08

Read in November, 2008

I really didn't care for this when I started, and was almost irritated to the point of giving up at first, but it really won me over. I think this is a brave book--it takes a lot of chances and breaks a lot of rules, and in the end, I think it succeeds. "You" poems are a difficult thing, one that rarely works, but I think Hughes pulls it off here, due to the subject matter. What's most interesting, and heartbreaking here, I think, is the sense of responsibility Hughes feels for Plath's suicide, as though his smallest actions set into motion the gears of fate. It's a bizarre form of egotism, one which puts a really interesting spin on the events preceding--they become endowed with a certain fatalism, and one gets the sense of two people destroyed by something larger--in a way, the book tears down the notion of free will. "Gloves," a later poem in which Hughes discusses this phenomenon, is a masterpiece, as many of these poems are.
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