A Poem About Assia
This poem, re-blogged from whatadriwrites.com/, purported to be written by Assia, expresses succintly the tragic life and death of Assia Gutmann Wevill. Entitled ‘Suicide Sestina’ it begins with a famous couplet by Sylvia Plath, followed by this cry of bitterness and unrequited love from Assia.
— Read the poem here:
The blogger has created Assia’s fictional cry from the heart as a confessional poem. The real Assia Wevill hid her considerable talent as poet, translator, and artist from the world that sneered at her, labelling her the Scarlet Woman, the Femme Fatale who broke the sacred union between Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. But was their marriage as sacred, blessed, and sublime as popular culture would have it?
Few realise that Ted was emotionally and physically faithful to Sylvia for the six years of their marriage, according to Hughes’ own words in his poems and letters. He continued his fidelity to his first wife and the mother of his children long after her death. For the rest of his life, in spite of a second marriage, and numerous affairs, he swore allegiance to Sylvia’s memory. ‘Like the greylag goose’, he told one of his lovers, ‘I mate only once, and for life’.
Knowing this, Assia was haunted by Sylvia’s ghost coming between her and Ted for the seven tumultuous years of their relationship. Her suicide, which some describe as a ‘copycat’ of Sylvia’s. was her final rebuke to the man who had lusted after her, loved her briefly, tortured her,persuaded her to leave the love of her life for him, and fathered her only child only to deny parentage of that child. Perhaps the poem quoted here goes some way towards explaining why she felt compelled to take her daughter Shura with her into death, rather than leave her unloved in a hostile world.
Hughes, Ted: Collected Poems, ed. Paul Keegan, Faber & Faber, 2003.
Plath, Sylvia: ’Lady Lazarus’ in Ariel, Faber & Faber, 1965.
Reid, Christopher: Letters of Ted Hughes, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008.
Tennant, Emma: Burnt Diaries, Canongate Books, 1999.
Tennant, Emma, Sylvia and Ted: A Novel, Henry Holt, 2008.