Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Wroth, wroth with Ted Hughes
With luck, I shall be an old woman in the future. Ideally, I shall be a spry, creative, generous, and busy woman like my mother, who is almost 83 and just bought a new 4-harness loom. She is spunky and creative and beautiful, my mother.
And what did you go and do? You made up a horrible, silly pastor and had him preach nonsense to group of old ladies: "to the old women's faces / That are cold and folded, like plucked dead hens' asses." Even aside from the fact that you had to point out that a plucked hens' ass would be a dead hen (yes, I could see that, dear sir), I am ticked. Well ticked. I know no old woman in the universe who deserves for her face to be compared to a plucked (dead--you liked to pluck them living, did you?) hen. I resent your poem and your preacher and your old women.
Hey, I even resent it on the behalf of poets. This is not satire; it is just mean-spirited. You are supposed to love the world, you poets! Love it. Cherish it, even when it is buffalo-headed and obtuse. Do your best by it. Don't turn a bunch of old ladies into a pack of hen butts because of some idiot pastor that you make up when you have an axe that needs grinding! Don't grind axes! Don't even turn old ladies into hen butts if you didn't make the poor man up! Leave him and them some dratted humanity, will you? Love them, love them, love them: be a Flannery O'Connor if you have to and show their inner freak before you give them the sword of your illumination. But love them!
I think I will have to wait until tomorrow to read any more of your poems. Or at least a few hours. Did I tell you that I like a lot of your poems? Maybe I will just reread this little one called "Welcombe."
But don't tick off a future old lady by lovelessness!
There is more.
I also resent this on behalf of the chickens. Chickens and I go way back. I am fond of chickens. I have a chicken pact with Howard Bahr (although I'm afraid I may have broken it now and then.) The chickens do not want their plucked-naked butts stuck up on old ladies' shoulders as faces. (They are said to dislike surrealism. I believe this is true.) They do not! I speak for the chickens!
There, you see? The future old woman speaks.
She's a little strange, but she knows whereof she speaks.
I think maybe she will have to go work out some energy in a poem now. Good-by.
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Photographs courtesy of sxc.hu. 5 chickens and a cat by Tijmen van Dobbenburgh of the Netherlands. Convocation of Bantams by Loretta Humble of Malakoff, Texas. The chickens were from Tennessee.