The Drowned Woman by Ted Hughes

Millionly-whored, without womb,
Her heart already rubbish,
Watching the garret death come,
This thirty year old miss

Walked in park pastoral
With bird and bee but no man
Where children were catching armsful
Of the untouched sun.

With plastic handbag, with mink fur,
A face sleep-haggard and sleep-puffed
Fresh-floured and daubed “whore,”
This puppet was stuffed

With rags of beds and strangers’
Cast-offs, one cracked cup, a cough
That smoked and malingered.
But put a coin in her slot

This worn public lady
Would fountain a monologue,
Would statuesque and goddess a body,
Ladder Jacob a leg.

She plucked men’s eyes from happy homes;
Hands grew in the empty dark
And hung like jewellery on her limbs,
Yet she came to this park

Not for the sun’s forgetful look
Nor children running here and there;
On the mud bed of the lake
She found her comforter.

Ted Hughes

About Russell Boyle

Russell Boyle is a mathematics teacher, writer, and poet. His poetry anthologies are titled The Beginning, Footprints and Loneliness. Russell is the author of the Year 7 to 8 Mathematics Short-Answer Tasks, the Year 7 to 10 Mathematics Multiple-Choice Tasks, the Year 9 to 10 Extended-Response Tasks, the solutions to the Year 12 VCAA Mathematics Exams and the Web-Programming For Beginners series of courses. Sample poems and questions may be downloaded from
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6 Responses to The Drowned Woman by Ted Hughes

  1. Jackie says:

    Beautifully poignant and brutally honest.

  2. cindy knoke says:

    Wow! Quite dark but well done~

  3. Very vivid. I did not know Ted Hughes was this good a poet. I still admire his wife’s work more, but perhaps I have neglected him too much because of the comparison.

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