Customer Reviews


26 Reviews
5 star:
 (22)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 
‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Personal and brilliant!, 4 July 2009
By 
Joyce Åkesson (Sweden) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Birthday Letters (Paperback)
Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes are personal, emotional and brilliant. The poet retells the story of his marriage with Sylvia Plath in a language that is loaded with strong emotions.
The poems fill two functions. On the one hand, they can be considered as a companion piece to Sylvia Plath's poetry, offering another understanding of it, and on the other, they depict the relation between Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. It is possible that Ted Hughes loved Sylvia more after her death than when she was alive, and therefore succeeded very well in sublimating his love poetically in this masterpiece.

Joyce Akesson, author of Love's Thrilling Dimensions
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and haunting, 7 Jan 2007
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Birthday Letters (Paperback)
Originally a fan of Sylvia Plath I decided to purhase this to get Hughes' own perspective of their marriage. I was not disappointed. A beautiful and touching read each poem maps out a different scene from their lives together and really brings it to life. It clearly shows the beautiful and deep love Hughes truly held for his wife and how much he still felt about her right up until his own death many years later. It is clear from his poignant poetry why he was given the title of Poet Laureate and this work is a credit to his name. I would recommend this to anyone.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She's Dead, He's Dead, What's there to Say., 14 April 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Birthday Letters (Paperback)
ANSWER: Everything. This book is tremendous. Not just because it is an excellent piece of literature, but because Hughes manages to do something of the impossible. He takes in it two iconic figures and reduces them to what they really were: ordinary people having ordinary problems. Before you read this book you can only see these two people as oversized monumental, almost untouchable, figures. When you have finished reading the collection you see them as a young couple who are afraid of bears attacking them in their tent. It is such an evocative personal account of two young ambitious souls as they bootleg around Europe and America searching for writers that exists in, and embrace, their poetic minds. You see the relationship as it blooms and dwindles so fast. The ecstatic beginnings, the honey-moon period, and then melancholic home coming and the realties of having to find places to live and work to do. Eventually the demise, lazy, sad, excepting the end rather than fighting it. Acutely poignant. A must read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad, disturbing but brilliant, 27 Aug 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Birthday Letters (Hardcover)
Birthday letters is a book which is haunting. Ted Hughes's mind is exposed in way which makes every human being, who reads these poems, relate to the mental torment and anguish he has endured over the subsequent period of 25 years in which Birthday Letters was composed. When I read birthday letters I felt as though I was intruding into personal moments in Hughes's life. The book of course is very onesided but it shows the fundamental nature of human beings and how we change our innermost feelings such as guilt, which torment us, into that of anger and even hate so that we can cope with our minds and memories which we can not escape.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern Narrative, 3 Aug 2011
By 
This review is from: Birthday Letters (Paperback)
" There you met it-the mystery of hatred.
After billions of years of anonymous matter
That was where you were found-promptly hated".

from " God Help the Wolf After Whom the Dogs Do Not Bark".

There are many ways to approach the poems in this collection. For example you could experience them as I often I do, as stand alone poems. On other occasions a narrative which needs to be taken in all at once. Or you can read it like a novel or even a film script as there is something very filmic about this collection which represent a seamless unfolding of Hughes' relationship with Plath. From inauspicious and "kitchen-sink" type meeting:

"Which of them I might meet.
I remember the thought. Not
Your face. No doubt I scanned particularly
The girls. Maybe I noticed you.
Maybe I weighed you up, feelingly unlikely.
Noted your long hair, loose waves-
Your Veronica Lake bang. Not what it hid.
It would appear blond. And your grin"

from "Fulbright Scholars"

To the bitter, some would say furious anger of their last years where Hughes portrays Sylvia Plath as an emotional invalid:

"You were the jailer of your murderer-
Which imprisoned you
And since I was your nurse and your protector
Your sentence was mine to"

from "The Blackbird".

As with all Hughes work there are many powerful animal metaphors to some up emotional situations, but the imagery as with the "The Blackbird" becomes bleaker and darker as the poems progress. It is in my mind one long narrative poem punctuated in chapters, written in verse. And frightening making one feel almost as a voyeur witnessing a very personal and uncompromising autobiography.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful., 2 Mar 2010
By 
David Stewart (Glasgow, United Kingdom.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Birthday Letters (Paperback)
This is a book about love and loss, it's searing and wonderful. The burly Yorkshireman left us in his prime. Recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HUghes's Birthday Letters, 26 Sep 2011
By 
RR Waller "ISeneca" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Birthday Letters (Hardcover)
For many people, Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes are famous only because she gave up her life and he was blamed. For others, they are two great poets whose body of works is first in their minds. Ted Hughes (1930-1998) is "a brooding presence in the landscape of 20th Century poetry"; Sylvia Plath (1932-1963), a writer of short-stories and journals was a poet of great power and her later "confessional" poems were "a real find" and "exhilarating to read", full of "clean, easy verse" (Peter Dickinson at "Punch") and Bernard Bergonzi at the "Manchester Guardian" said "The Colossus" was an "outstanding technical accomplishment" with a "virtuoso' quality".

Sylvia Plath's suicide and the circumstances surrounding it changed everything and overshadowed Hughes's life; he became the "bette noir" to Plath's fans and the enemy of feminists who blamed him for her death; his name (in lead letters) was removed from her gravestone three times. Hughes did not respond for thirty-five years; as her literary executer, he edited her collected works and "Ariel" anthology, although many did not agree with how these had been done and the choices he made. Opinions are still strong on both sides today, a mark of their stature as writers and the fascination with which their lives are still viewed; there is a biographical publishing industry surrounding their lives and works. We have only these biographies and their works to guide us into the shadows of the past.

"Birthday Letters",remembering his first wife and their life together, was published thirty-five years after her death and a short time before his, eighty-eight poems written in letter form which reveal their romance and marriage. It was an instant success and won many prizes. Its popularity may have been the potent and/or prurient fascination with their lives, their marriage and her suicide. Whatever the reason for the interest, its insight into their lives was deeper and more intimate than many people expected, providing a picture of two married human beings first (albeit forcefully talented and driven human beings, poets and icons second.

I met Hughes on a number of occasions and he was a shy man who rarely gave much away about his life. Even reading with his close friend, Seamus Heaney, he said little as introduction, unlike Heaney who was always willing to introduce a poem at length. "Birthday Letters" takes us behind this reticent man to look deeply into his life.

Recommended (although the poems' style may not be to everyone's taste and many critics did not think the personal style suited Hughes whose other work is much starker, the world and nature "red in tooth and claw").

Reflections of Sylvia Plath from "The City" by Ted Hughes:

Your poems are like a dark city centre.
Your novel, your stories, your journals, your letters, are suburbs
Of this big city.
The hotels are lit like office blocks all night
With scholars, priests, pilgrims. It's at night
Sometimes I drive through. I just find
Myself driving through, going slow, simply
Roaming in my own darkness, pondering
What you did. Nearly always
I glimpse you - at some crossing,
Staring upwards, lost, sixty year old.
...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight intoTed Hughes's relationship with Sylvia Plath, 14 Aug 2010
By 
This review is from: Birthday Letters (Hardcover)
These - unusually confessional poems for Ted Hughes, are concerned mostly with his perceptions of Plath's psychological state, and also provide a record of their life together, while referring constantly to Plaths's own writing.

Plath is very much the subject of these poems, rather than Hughes's own inner life; but they are fascinating and enjoyable to read, and provide an invaluable insight into Hughes and Plath's relationship.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Birthday letters, 17 Oct 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Birthday Letters (Kindle Edition)
This book of poems written to Sylvia Plath is breath-takingly my heart-achingly beautiful. Emotion is wrought and finely tuned with a skilful pen, and the poems allow the reader to journey a little way, albeit vicariously, with the poet through the gamut of emotion that is young love, parenthood and marital breakdown.
The intuitive insights of course have the added layer of hindsight, and the poetic truths are as stark, and as sparkling as those of Sylvia' s own poetry. The poems offer a masculine perspective on the difficulties of living and loving a brilliant young creative who was burdened with mental health problems.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A BEAUTIFUL BOOK, 8 Nov 2002
This review is from: Birthday Letters (Paperback)
Since Sylvia Plath's suicide in 1963, Ted Hughes has been unfairly demonized by Plath's largely feminist following as a domineering unfaithful bully who allegedly drove his wife over the edge. To his credit, Hughes had always kept a dignified distance from his detractors. He finally broke his silence shortly before his own death in 1998 with this beautiful collection of poems which appear in chronological order as letters of reminiscence about their life together, written in reply to Plath's published diary account of their marriage. You only have to read Birthday Letters in conjunction with the Journals of Sylvia Plath to realise how deeply Ted Hughes loved and missed his first wife. Touching and heartbreakingly sad, and very moving.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Birthday Letters
Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes (Paperback - 5 April 1999)
£8.24
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews