She took the easy way out; Hughes lived on, through the miserable 1970s. The hippie era was bad enough, but this was when the hangover took over. A hungover self-righteous American crowd, a hungover bitchy Brit-Lit clique…you wouldn’t want to be judged by a jury consisting of that scum–but Hughes was, judged and found guilty of murder, writing far too well and too clearly to be a real poet. To these charges was added, much later, the felony of accepting the laureateship and thus attempting to climb out of those modest roots into which he needed to be shoved early and often.
Imagine living out a long life as punchline widower for a crowd like that. Hughes lived a long, long time in that foul atmosphere-he was a big tough bastard, after all, and the body doesn’t want to die. To the end, he tried to act properly, keeping silent on Plath until his own death was near, only then mentioning that he had been her nurse in a sexless marriage where all attention was focused on Sylvia’s sacred complexes.
When I think of him now I see him on that stage in San Francisco, waiting for the lunatic in the third row to finish ranting so he could read his poems. He died waiting, and was probably glad to be gone.
Buy John Dolan’s novel “Pleasant Hell” (Capricorn Press).
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