This a poem from Birthday Letters about the years Hughes spent with Sylvia Plath. I love this poem despite its occasional tone of subtle cattiness and overall tone of bewildered irony. Even though Hughes is often considered the bad guy in their relationship there is also a sense that theirs was a fateful bond especially when the grief and longing come through these lines. Sylvia as a the ghost here is so fragile that it took me three readings before she fully materialized. I enjoy the image of the lost wedding gift as a grave marker in the last stanza. The anger and sadness in 'She has forgotten/She cannot even remember you' is substantial. This is a very genuine reaction to the death of important person in Hughes' life.
I have only recently become fully acquainted with Ted Hughes' poems and life. I find it interesting how he seems to return to the same themes. I met him in London in the late 1970s. He told me he was a poet but I didn't know much else. At lunch in a restaurant called The Pot in London one afternoon I mentioned that I liked Daffodils since each table had a bud vase with daffodils in them. He wrote me a poem on a napkin, which I still have, called Daffodil. It seemed a rather cynical poem. It begins by describing the attractive attributes of the flower but ends by saying it will be buffered and bruised by natures force only to be anulled and hardened to what life lies ahead or to slain by the bold steel of mans mind.
He seemed to be a man with demons. I wish I had known him better.