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When her husband (Ted Hughes) left her for another woman, she took his manuscripts, mixed them with a debris of fingernail parings and dandruff from his desk, and burned them in a witch’s ritual bonfire. As the flames died down, a single fragment paper drifted on to her foot. On it was the name of the woman he had left her for: Assia. “Her psychic gifts, at almost any time,” Ted wrote, “were strong enough to make her frequently wish to be rid of them.”

With Sylvia’s (Plath) personal nightmares to contend with, Hughes’s creative strategies would have worked on her like, say, the “recovered memory” games untrained rogue psychotherapists play on unwary patients – releasing the inner demons then stepping aside with no thought of the consequences. Because he truly believed in her talent he did it in the name of poetry. He handed her the key she had been looking for to find her dead father and, always the good student, she went down into the cellarage, key in hand. But the ghouls she released were malign. They helped her write great poems, but they destroyed her marriage, then they destroyed her.

Al Alvarez
Where Did It All Go Right?