Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Baby You're A Rich Man

Ted Hughes’ wife committed suicide, and that fact in some sense defines Hughes’ reputation as a poet. Adrienne Rich’s husband committed suicide, and that fact, somehow, doesn’t. I wonder why? Is it because, by later coming out as gay, Rich somebody diluted the importance of her preceding marriage (one which resulted in three children?) Or is there a sort of incipient reverse-sexism involved: that somehow marriage must matter more to a male poet than a female?

I’m thinking of taking this (from 1991’s An Atlas of the Difficult World) as the epigraph to my new novel:
Here is a map of our country:
here is the Sea of Indifference, glazed with salt
This is the haunted river flowing from brow to groin
We dare not taste its water.
Do we dare? I suppose we don’t.

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