Poetry News

The Sculptures of Ted Hughes

By Harriet Staff

This Guardian article gives us a glimpse into the world of Ted Hughes, the sculptor, particularly his sculpture of a jaguar, said to represent, in part, his struggles with the suicide of Sylvia Plath:

Ted Hughes's fascination with jaguars inspired some of his verse, but it was little known until now that it also led him to create two sculptures.

One of the sculptures, pictured for the first time in today's Observer, is seen by experts as a self-portrait of a complex man who struggled against his demons, using animals and the dark forces of nature as metaphors for human life.

Hughes made the sculpture in 1967 – four years after the death of his wife, American poet Sylvia Plath, who took her own life, aged 30, after being abandoned by Hughes for his lover Assia Wevill. The sculpture, which Hughes gave to his brother, is particularly striking because he branded the jaguar's forehead with the letter 'A', possibly for Assia or "adulterer", as recalled in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, in which a woman is sentenced to wearing the letter A around her neck.

Such was Hughes's eye for detail and understanding of the animal's anatomy that every muscle and bone is there. Although a mere seven inches long, it is a powerful depiction.

Originally Published: January 2nd, 2012