I had let it all grow. I had supposed It was all OK. Your lifeWas a liner I voyaged in.Costly education had fitted you out.Financiers and committees and consultantsEffaced themselves in the gleam of your finish.You trembled with the new life of those engines.That first morning,Before your first class at College, you sat thereSipping coffee. Now I know, as I did not,What eyes waited at the back of the classTo check your first professional performanceAgainst their expectations. What assessorsWaited to see you justify the costAnd redeem their gamble. What a furnaceOf eyes waited to prove your metal. I watchedThe strange dummy stiffness, the misery,Of your blue flannel suit, its straitjacket, uglyHalf-approximation to your ideaOf the properties you hoped to ease into,And your horror in it. And the tannedAlmost green undertinge of your faceShrunk to its wick, your scar lumpish, your plaitedHead pathetically tiny.You waited,Knowing yourself helpless in the tweezersOf the life that judges you and I sawThe flayed nerve, the unhealable face-woundWhich was all you had for courage.I saw that what you gripped, as you sipped,Were terrors that killed you once already.Now I see, I saw, sitting, the lonelyGirl who was going to die.That blue suit.A mad, execution uniform,Survived your sentence. But then I sat, stilled,Unable to fathom what stilled youAs I looked at you, as I am stilledPermanently now, permanentlyBending so briefly at your open coffin.
Ted Hughes