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Ted Hughes’s Letter to his Son

By Harriet Staff

From Letters of Note: A wise and inspiring letter from Ted Hughes to his 24-year-old son, Nicholas. Early in the letter, Hughes describes his life in America with his wife, Sylvia Plath, writing, “I came to America, when I was 27, and lived there three years as if I were living inside a damart sock… We made hardly any friends, no close ones, and neither of us ever did anything the other didn’t want wholeheartedly to do.”

Hughes goes on to advise his son to venture outside of the “damart sock”:

…When you realise you’ve gone a few weeks and haven’t felt that awful struggle of your childish self—struggling to lift itself out of its inadequacy and incompetence—you’ll know you’ve gone some weeks without meeting new challenge, and without growing, and that you’ve gone some weeks towards losing touch with yourself. The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.

Read the full letter here.

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Posted in Poetry News on Tuesday, September 18th, 2012 by Harriet Staff.