Fulbright Scholars Essay

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Fulbright Scholars I am going to present ‘Fulbright Scholars’, the first poem from Ted Hughes’ powerful autobiographic ‘Birthday Letters’, which were released in 1998 - 35 years after Sylvia Plath suicide and only months before the poet’s own death. Hughes’ poems can be regarded as a personal reply to the critics, who have been arguing for decades that his infidelity and cruelty drove Plath to suicide. However, ‘Fulbright Scholars’ explores the poet’s first sighting of Sylvia Plath in a photograph of the new Fulbright scholars at the Strand in London. The conversational narrative monologue, written in free verse without any regular pattern of metre or rhyme, is addressed to his deceased wife. Thus, the poem is his perspective, his interpretation, his perception of the events of that day and consequently – as inferred within the poem-of their lives together. For this reason, it is subjective. Through the use of flashback, we are given a double perspective, one of the young, naive Ted Hughes who has limited life experiences and is about to fall in love with the young talented American writer on the photograph, and that of an older reflective poet who is influenced by the disastrous relationship that developed. The last line reveals this conflict: • At twenty-five I was dumbfounded afresh By my ignorance of the simplest things. Hughes hindsight doubtlessly creates tension within the poem - tension between what he remembers and what he has since learned. It reveals that perspective change with time and might influence memory. It illustrates the fact that there is no single truth concerning the failure of a relationship. The poet remembers parts of the day when he saw Sylvia for the first time on a photograph within a group of Fulbright Scholars. In an emphatic tone he emphasises his certainty about that special hot summer day by saying

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