Laurence Binyon Ypres She was a city of patience; of proud name, Dimmed by neglecting Time; of beauty and loss; Of acquiescence in the creeping moss. But on a sudden fierce destruction came Tigerishly pouncing: thunderbolt and flame Showered on her streets, to shatter them and toss Her ancient towers to ashes. Riven across, She rose, dead, into never-dying fame. White against heavens of storm, a ghost, she is known To the world's ends. The myriads of the brave Sleep round her. Desolately glorified, She, moon-like, draws her own far-moving tide Of sorrow and memory; toward her, each alone, Glide the dark dreams that seek an English grave.
While this poem effectively describes the way any human being might feel in the face of the power of nature, it is likely that this poem describes something much more personal to Ted Hughes . Hughes was married, for four years, to Sylvia Plath. Plath, a poet herself, is best known for being a tortured soul. Her poetry is dark and sometimes downright terrifying. Plath attempted to end her life multiple times, but did not actually commit suicide until about a year after she and Hughes separated. This tragedy tainted Hughes’ reputation as a poet, since many identified with Plath’s poetry and saw Hughes as the source of her torment. Here, however, Hughes describes what it felt like for him to be in a marriage with someone who was so intent on self destruction. Without knowing the details of their marriage, it is difficult to form an opinion on whether or not Hughes was the source of Plath’s pain. But this poem reveals some of Hughes’ point of view. He clearly felt hopeless in the situation. He felt that he and his wife were entirely alone. There was no one to help them. They were like a house stranded at sea, at the mercies of the wind. The last two stanzas reveal that he felt as if both of them were dying, and they could not even talk to each other. They could not read a book or enjoy any kind of entertainment in the presence of one another. This represents the power of the storm that overcame their marriage. Hughes clearly felt that he could no nothing to help Plath or himself. He felt that they were dying, and he was entirely hopeless.