Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, North Tawton

21 07 2014

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We scoured the map for North Tawton and saw it pulse almost in the centre of the county; it was, fortuitously, only miles away from the cottage we were renting.  It took minutes to find the village, moments to find the blue plaque commemorating Ted Hughes’ life there.  The landlord of a pub, rolling barrels into a thirsty cellar, reluctantly pointed the way, behind the churchyard’s arrowhead spire, to the house.  We brushed our hands against the fingernail-thin gravestones on the channelled track and found a view over a lush land lake of a garden.  

Hughes’ wife Carol, the daughter of Jack Orchard, who later ran Moortown Farm (subject of the poet’s collection ‘Moortown Diary’) near Winkleigh, still lives in the home but the site is better known as the home he shared with both Sylvia Plath and Assia Wevill.  From a horse chestnut tree that leaned from the garden to the graveyard, I unhinged a conker; it looked too juvenile to contain anything inside the fruit. 

I saw
The dreamer in her
Had fallen in love with me and she did not know it.
That moment the dreamer in me
Fell in love with her, and I knew it.

Ted Hughes, Dreamers, Birthday Letters

 

Fumy, spirituous mists inhabit this place

Separated from my house by a row of headstones.

I simply cannot see where there is to get to. Sylvia Plath, The Moon and the Yew Tree

 

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2 responses

23 07 2014
Aida Birch

Very interesting account of two great poets

27 07 2014
glynfedwards

Thanks, Hughes’ history in Devon is fascinating and seems completely under exploited by the county. Perhaps, on reflection, that’s ideal. I love the fact that a farm where Seamus Heaney and Hughes spent time together is now, simply, a farm again.

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