Flowered Memories: an Analysis of Ted Hughes' Daffodils

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‘Imagine what you are writing about. See it and live it.'
–Ted Hughes, Poetry in the Making

Edward James Hughes was English Poet Laureate from 1984 to his death in 1998. Famous for his violent poems about the innocent savagery of animals, Ted Hughes was born on Mytholmroyd, in the West Riding district of Yorkshire, which became "the psychological terrain of his later poetry" (The Literary Encyclopedia). He was married to the famous Sylvia Plath from 1956 up to her controversial suicide in 1956. Believed by many to have pushed his wife to suicide, Hughes maintained 35 years of silence on the issue. And on February 1998, Ted Hughes finally broke the silence with the release of Birthday Letters a collection of 88 poems written over 25 years, published by Faber and Faber; Farrar Straus & Giroux. Birthday Letters received the T.S. Eliot Prize and " re-ignited the famous controversy and met with mixed critical response" (Poets.org). In it, he addresses Sylvia Plath directly, in a conversational manner, which calls to mind an image of an old man leafing through an album with a ghost.

Daffodils, one of the poems featured in Birthday Letters, expressively depicts the initial years of the couple's union. In the said poem, the act of harvesting daffodils becomes the catalyst for the persona's recollection of the early days of their marriage. In it, the persona of the poem looks back on his past, but with a modern perspective. Composed of 68 lines written in simple conversational free verse, Daffodils, like most of the poems included in Birthday Letters, was written using the first person point of view and addresses the "you" (Plath) directly. The poem starts with the persona's recollection of memories from the early days of his marriage with Plath, particularly in the instance where they were harvesting daffodils together with their daughter. A sense of nostalgia pervades the poem, especially in the first two lines:

Remember how we picked the daffodils?...
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