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Letters to Ted

Daniel Weissbort

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Imprint: Anvil Press Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (112 pages)
(Pub. Oct 2002)
£8.95 £8.05
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    The emptying of the house reminds me that
    you said you liked clutter.

    You talked of weeds, flowering, fruiting.
    But I suppose people, as they will, tidied up about you,
    even though you yourself had an instinct for order.

    Still, “Don’t throw anything out!” you growled.
    “Put it all in boxes”, you commanded.
    I tried and, as far as I was able to, did.

    But gradually I burrowed into these too, disposed of fistfuls.
    “To keep things manageable”, I persuaded myself.
    That is, I dealt with the situation in an ad-hoc manner,
    But as if there were some method to it.

    I’m reminded of this, as I box what remains unboxed.
    It’s slim pickings.


    Your Voice Inside the Abbey

    Unannounced, your voice filled the Abbey,
    startling us, keeping us startled.
    Suddenly it wasn’t the words –
    that song from Cymbeline,
    wonderful words though they be –
    but life itself wanting you to live.
    Your voice, unaccompanied by you,
    the senses wouldn’t accept just voice.
    Anger at your non-appearance –
    resignation forced on us –
    there in the Abbey of English Kings,
    in the presence of a diminutive queen and a solicitous,
          frowning prince.
    The nails of the knowledge of your death were hammered in
    with every utterance,
    as we were sung to, seduced.



    Do I preserve what I know by not transcribing you,
    not finding a form of words for you –
    the look of you and your way of looking?
    Do I keep you in the original,

    Letters to Ted is a remarkable collection of poems in memory of the late Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes, with whom Daniel Weissbort struck up a friendship, both literary and personal, during their student days in 1950s Cambridge. Swift-moving, by turns contemplative and dramatic in their narration, these spare, poignant, often diary-like poems conjure up a rich history of incidents and memories, creating a moving portrait of a great poet and a lasting friendship.

    Daniel Weissbort was born in 1935. He read History at Cambridge and did postgraduate work in the politics of literature during the post-Stalin period. He has translated many modern Russian poets, including Nikolai Zabolotsky and Yunna Morits. He edited Ted Hughes: Selected Translations (2006). He is Emeritus Professor of English and ... read more
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