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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Animal Implicatures



In his "animal" books- Ted Hughes develops a vivid'
poetic style which is yet not congenial to all tastes..
His- poetry has: been accused’ of being unnecessarily
violent». This-- dissertation attempts' to examine the
justice of thisv often-heard charge by investigating
Hughesi’s violence under three primary aspects-: 1* his:
image- of predation, 2. his: attitude towards- women, and
3«. his; "wasteland" settings and moods-» In book after^
book Hughes'* s.; animal predators: get less’ literal and
more human and allegorical.» Hughes-®'s; attitude towards-women
is; ambivalent«-.. IVhile he seems to adore the
archetypal woman-flguresiy he hates the contemporary,
quotidian working-woman». Though Hughes:’‘s- wasteland'
is-narrox^, deep: and pessimistic, like Eliot's; it offers:
some hope of purgation to those who do not Join the
"machine" of industrial society, remaining faithful to
their'human natures*. Thence our conclusion that Hughes
is.; not violent for-the sake of violence, but rather as;
a-means; to arouse man to the de-humanized, mechanized
world in which he became a puppet» In his poetry Ted
Hughes' communicates; all the tension and disorder ‘ he
finds: in the universe*.
A B S T: R A C T
R E s IT M 0
Nos seus livros sobre "animais" Ted' Hughes- desenvolve
um estilo poético que,, no' entanto,, não agrada a
todbs! os; gostos-®. Â sua poesia tem sldb' acusada dè s;er
db'snece-ssariamente violenta». Nossa dis'ertaçao pretende
examinar - a validade desta acusação tão comum a
obra de Hughes- investigando sua violência sob tres
aspectos-, fündamentais-? lio sua imagem de predatores:,
2o sua' atitude em relação à mulher’ e 3'»- o cenárib e o
humor’de seu mundo áridb,. gastoimprodutivo» A cada
livro seu os; predatores. s;e tornam menos-, ferozes., mais;
humanos; e alegóricos» A atitude de Hughes; em relação
a; muliher• é ambivalente®. Enquanto ele parece adorar a
muülier-arquétipoy ele despreza a mulher’ contemporânea,
comum, que se mantém,. Embora o mundo gasto,, improdutivo
('h^rast eland”) de Hughes; s;eja fechado,, profundO' e
pessimista, como EMbt ele oferece alguma esperança de
purgação para aquele que não adere a sociedade indus;-
trial,, permánecendo fiel a^ sua natureza humana* Daí
S ' concluirmos; que Hughes nao e violento por'amor; a violência,.
Ele usa a violência como um meio para chamar’
a atenção dbs'homens; para o mundb desumanizadb e mecanizado
no qual- eles; se tornaram simples; bonecos. A; '
sua poesia transmite toda a tensão e disordem que ele
vê no universo o.
loi The nature of this inquiry ....... ..o.»1
loii The critics* response to the
"violent"’ art of Ted Hughes; . oe . o o2
loiii Statement of" Purpose . . o— . . . .10
Chapter 2-: BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .................................13
Chapter^3 ANIMALS « • • •' e « • • a' • c •'« fl' O'- e o--« o' e O' e o o a o* o' e « e- » ..21
Chapter k ATTITUDE TO WOMEN .. ................. .47
Chapter- 5 THE WASTELAND ...................,.,........ ..65
CONCLUSION 0'..- O ' . . O'0-....'O... . O'..... o • . 98■
: NOTES '. e. . Q>... O'.'o o-.. - •. e 104
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY ..... .. ................,.115
The nature of thiS’ inquiry
Ted Hughes is one of those poets who has shocked his
contemporaries since his first book of poetry was published»
Bewilderment and scornj admiration and anger are displayed
by poetry-lovers whenever a' new book of Hughes comes out.
His themes are the material which makes life itself: love,
sex, birth, life and death, among men and animals, in a
broken, decaying society«- He expresses these themes in a
stark, bare, direct, massive language, rather unusual in
poetry» Furthermore, there is such intensity of feelings,
such concentration of passion that the inner and outer
conflicts of a- sensitive, intellectual man are irreverently
Despite all these conflicts, Hughes’s poetry is
the contemporary poetry of a: contemporary poet in the
contemporary world» Since it is with his first four books
of poetry for adults that Ted Hughes won the reputation' of
a "violent" poet, I have selected The Hawk in the Rain^
LHPercal. Wodwo and Crow as foci within which to examine
the theme of his poetical "violence"«.
The critics' response to the 'Violent'* art
of Ted Hughes
Since Ted'Hughes's first book of poetry appeared
he has: been a^ccused of violencec "He is", one critic
écrites j
bruiser who pummels: his readers with the harshest
5 most solid words in order to batter them
into submission* ^
Thus Hughes has been identified with his individualistic5
proud hawk who possessively proclaimss
I kill where I please because it is'all mine» ^
For these critics Ted Hughes is an implacable poet who
proclaims the violence in this world®
However3 a few critics5 especially the more recent,
disagree with the "brutal"' epithet given to Ted Hughes's
art».. Bold maintains that Ted Hughes is not violent at all,
that he is rather a"man possessed by his subject matter"®^
That is, he is too sensitive, too passionate to write softly
,of what he feels so intensely® If his poetry is a ■
poetry of conflict^ it means that he is, too much involved
with the world and with men in general«, He is just
responding to the "spectacle of energy" ^1- in the modern
world® Bold goes still further when he asserts that if
we compare Hughes's and Gunn's poetry (av\other poet charged
with violence) with Shakespeare's art, we X'/ill come to the
conclusion that their art is "positively pacific" 5
When we consider the period in which Hughes's
first books were published (The Hawk in the Rain in 1957
and Lupercal in 1960)5 we will understand why they
disturbed both critics and readers so much» In the
fifties there was a school of poetry in Britain called
"The Movement"5 whose poems were characterized by
decorum,, sobriety and domesticity of tone and subject
matter« Their language was gentle, polished, charming*
Poets of "The Movement" such as Larkin, Blackburn,
Holloway, Enright, Ro-So-Thomas, E»Jennings and
Tomlinson would restrain their most impetuous feelings
to make poems that could be decently read in the drawing-room
of any respectable family® It was a domestic,
cozy sort of poetry, and though coming after the World
War Two, it was full of nostalgia, feelings of hopelessness,
of bereavement combined with feelings of comformity,
of acceptance with the irremediable» There is a certain ,
analogy with the Georgian poets who preceded the first
World War and the innovations of ToSJSlioti
Home is so Sad
Home is so sado It stays as it was left,
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back» Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so.
Having no heart to put aside the theft
: And turn again to what it started as, \ ^
. A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
: Long fallen wide. You can see how it X'/ass
Look at the picture and the cutlery.
The music in the piano stool.- That vase» 6
This elegant little poem by Philip Larkin is fullof
nostalgia and a longing for something which has been ;;
losts a feeling5 a time, a person - something which is ,
not objectively identifiedo It expresses a sadness which
is not bitter, which does not offend. Larkin seems to ■
regret that only the material things have been preserved,;
thus home has become a picture of a still nature, "bereft
of anyone to please'*. 7
The poets of "The Movement" were careful not to
shock® Quite aware that their reading public had already
had their share of suffering5 of violence in this world,
they brought them a kind of poetry which was peaceful,
pleasant5 compassionate.
It is to this kind of poetry that Ted Hughes
responds and reacts against. Instead of domesticating
his feelings, his worries, his fears, his joys and
frustrations5 he releases them, he displays them openly,
shamelessly. Harsh, he seems to wish to prick the
sensibility of a public deeply settled into an insular
Establishment, a public biased to favour old traditions,
conventions and prejudices. By exposing his own reality
so. directly, Hughes elicited strong polar reactions from*
the critics who either praised or condemned the audacity
of his "violent" art.
In 1959i in an article on Ted Hughes, A,E*,Dyson
He [Ted Hughes is fascinated by violence of
all kinds, in love and in hatred, in the jungle
and in the arena, in battle, murder and sudden
death® Violencej for himj is the occasion not for
reflection, but for being. 8
It seems to me that Dyson, like Hughes, hails this
violence since it shox^s an abrupt, unreflected moment x^rhen
man is himself, free of any constraint® It is a moment
xvrhen time does not count, it is so intense, so deep that
it becomes immortal« And, at least, for this moment man
has the courage to break his personal conventions Xvrhlch
have tied him up, to unmask himself and become a man, free,
XAfhole, one, himself« So violence is a moment of revelation
and as such should b© XfjelcomSo..
On the other hand, C<,BoCsx, coMnenting on "The
Violence of Ted Hughes", says that h©
displays ruthlessly and x^ith great accuracy the
innate cruelty of all natural things o .9 ^
For Cox Hughes’s x-rorld is chaotic, hopeless, unchangeable,
fatalo- All that is left to the poet is "to celebrate its
tragic glory” a meaningless task for the man behind
the XiJ’ritten page«
JoH»HexATton goes further than Cox and says that
Hughes's "cult'* 11 of violence is just a disguise to
conceal his cult of himself, a show-off, a tiring "unpersuasiv©
loud-talking’V 12 as a result his poetry
turns into "monotony" 13 and "stillness" 14» Later on,
in an article on Wodwo ^ Newton reviex-rs his interpretation
of Hughes's violence stating that, though hard to cope^
with, it is rather a "mismanaged expression of a large
and generous man® s; zest and relish» Thus :It;'is no longer
self-affirmation5 but the unfortunate display of a
magnanimous person’s enthusiasm for life» Now Mr. Newton
interprets Hughes's poetry as '‘metaphysical" 16, though
according to JoPress the metaphysical poets' influence is
''microicopicslly small'- 17® rather
resembles an early 17th century I'lalcontent
projecting his baffled fury upon the universe
at large 5 18
as he skillfully shows the violence in this world without
©ver trying to explain its meaningo In this way'he
creates a disorderly, incoherent'.,, meaningless universe
which is nevertheless stoically accepted by the poet himself
and by all of us as welleAll
his works 5 even his children's bookSj are
impregnated with violence, says Rawson, and this violence
restricts the scope of his poetry within narrox^ limits o
The poet himself is "trapped” 19 into this world of
violence, a world from which we can ©scape only through
death» Th® attempt to survive is nothing but a brutal
"assertion of self"
Asserting oneself is a means to survival, suggest
Bedient and other critics, and it is this attempt to
survive bj;' all means, this "will to live" 21 which
characterize Hughes's poetry, not really violence 22„
This world has lost so much of its vigour, beauty,
authenticity and naturalness that to survive, man must
fights fight not to die» VJhile he is fighting, he is
living 6
Writing on ; the poetry of Czeslaw Milosz j 'Hughes
-remarks that Milosz’s
' ■ poetry is not equipped for life where people
actually do die. 23
This statement of the po@t implies that in contrast,
Hughes’s poetry is tough5 crude, provocative. Life is:
not sweet5 easy, refined, so man should prepare to meet
its harshnosso There is no point in being gentlo in a
society which is aggressive»
Sagar, who vjrote a book on Ted Hughes's art, .
thinks that iïughes is not interested in consistency at
all and his poems are
explorations, '^reconnaissances”, bulletins from
an internal internecine battleground® 2i|
In his poetry Hughes shows the'*destructiveness'' 25 of
Nature and man’s conflicts with himself and with the
world he lives in« Sagar maintains that Hughes is a
brave and sensitive poet who dares to bring "more and
more of the unkno\-m into consciousness" 26 in a
concentrated,open and passionate style« He believes
that Hughes exaggerates his images on purpose» England
has been dormant for such long time that only through
exaggeration can one touch man’s sensibility and
arouse his consciousness to the things and to the
persons around him® Mr« Sagar adds that Ted Hughes is
a "master of hyperbole” 27, a very effective poetical
device, most admiredly used in the 16th and 17th
centuries® At present man has become too frail to bear
such audacity of thought, too fearful to fac® truth j ,
and too lazy to analyze himself and the world. What r
Hughes shows in his poetry is not violence but gieat ^
energy, so unusual in England nowadays*
In the introduction to The New Poetry
/ that the modern poet should "Use all his '
intelligence and skill to make poetic sense” 28 of all
his experience in this world and he suggests that this
is what Hughes is doing. Comparing Larkin's poem "At
Grass" with Hughes's "A Dream of Horses’^ Mr. Alvarez’^
concludes that Larkin's poem is more elaborate than
Hughes's, but his horses are
social creatures of fashionable race meeting
and high style 29,
whereas Hughes's horses have
a violent, impending presence
that is, they are real creatures with their physical
and psychological needs. In this way he interprets ,
Hughes's'* violence" as a serious attempt to make
"poetic sense" 31 of all the mishmash of this world.
Alvarez is of opinion that Hughes combines the
"psychological insight and integrity of D.H.Lawrence"
with "the technical skill and formal intelligence of
T.S.Eliot". 3#
In an interview with the “London Magazine; Ted
Hughes, responding to the charge on violence, classifies
the term as a very "tricky" 33 one and he wonders whether
it is used in other countries.- He argues:
One common use of it the expression "violence'^
I fancy occurs where the reviewer type of critic
is thinking of his audience ... his English
' audience.. When my Aunt calls my verse "horrible'
and violent"' I know what she meansv Because I
know what style of life she is defending. And
I know she is representative of huge numbers^ of
people in England .... She has an instinct for a^
kind of poetry that will confirm the values of
her way of life .... In a sense, critics who
find my poetry violent are in her world, and they
are safeguarding her way of life.. So to
:: define their use of the word violence any
further, you have to work out just why her
way of life should find the behaviour of a hawk
"horrible" or any reference to violent death
: "disgusting", just as: she finds reference to
extreme vehemence of life "frightening somehow”.
It's a futile quarrel really. 34
He finds that those critics who call his poetry
"violent" are reacting against any kind of change..
Living in a comfortable past, they refuse to hear the
call to see life as it is. They insist on keeping, in
appearance, at least, the good old days when beasts’,
lived in the forest and men and women in their sweet
homes, content, undisturbed, resignedly happy..
10 '
Statement of Purpose
In this dissertation I propose to examine the
JustiQg Qf the widespread crltisal ehargg that Ted Hughes’s
art is "violent*', and to determine what forms this
violence takes in his poetry. Is Hughes a narrow,
obsessed or mannered poet or does he stand at the
frontier of contemporary poetry?ihis‘ examination will
leave us in a better position to say if, or how, or
where "violence" may be a poetic virtue,
I suppose it is not goirig too far to assert that
Ted Hughes was involved with "violence" since his early
life. To begin with he was born and brought up in an
area of Britain where the geography itself is "violent":
rugged mountains with dark, doomed rocks and flat,
barren moors contrasted with forested valleys where
animals a b o u n d . The;- skyr isr uisiiallT-: clouded and the rain
comes- down- quite-often--As; a: child his: and his brother's?
favourit® hobby was the pursuit of animals, either hunting
them or catching them to bring home as pets.
His favourite stories as a boy were those of war
his father loved to tell: violent stories of death and
slaughter of men, of decomposition and dilapidation of a
When he started to be well-known as a poet he
was accused of being the murderer of his first wife, who
committed suicide leaving their two babies motherless and
alone in a gas-filled flat in London,
With this background it is natural that his art
came out strong, insulting, rebellious. Furthermore,
his poetry made such a violent contrast with that of the
current poets, who set their poetry in a tranquil landssagfI
is? away* frQin social and human conflicts, that it
shocked many people.
Ted Hughes selects as poetic topics events that
make news in our contemporary world and explores modern
man with all his conflicts. And he displays his themes
vigorously, in a sort of naked, complex language where
grotesque images and symbols puzzle the unaccustomed
In this dissertation I will choose three aspects
of his "violent" poetry to investigate his treatment of
animals, his attitude toward women and his wasteland,
aligning myself with Bold, Dyson, Bedient, Sagar and
In the chapter on animals it is my intention to
separate the animals into different categories to witness
the chronology of their treatment. In this way I will
deal first with the big, predatory animals who kill mercilessly
when attacked. Then I will examine the small
animals of prey, persecuted and killed by man to satisfy
his desire for power and finally I will investigate
allegorical animals who really represent man. Thus the
violence treated in this chapter is primarily literal and
In the next chapter I will deal with Ted Hughes's,
ambivalent attitude towards women. At times he is
patronizing towards: them, at times he is misogynistic.
v'/hile he seems to admire the archetypal women figures, he
hates the modern woman who competes with man in her work..
Thence I will develop- some ideas on the "machão" who is
exalted by the poet. Also I will consider the way in
which ther themes of "love"' and "marriage"' are presented
as analogues to war.. Thõ "violence"' focussed upon in
this chapter is psychological.
Last but not least I will.move to Ted Hughes's
wasteland, where the emphasis on "violence"’ is social.
I will analyze his "social violence"' under the aspect
of language and metaphor..
Since I have felt that he was influenced by Eliot's
"The Waste Land" I will compare some points of his wasteland
with Eliot's.. It is my intention to investigate the
different grounds Ted Hughes: built his wasteland uponr
sterility, hopelessness, alienation, fragmentation, nothingness,
intellectualism, mechanization and war. With
the myth of Crow, Ted Hughes gives us a human vision of a
non-human cosmos.. For Hughes men are destroying the world
with their mechanization, their barren intellectuality,
their alienation and their murderous wars.. But, apparently
everything is not lost yet. The poet confides in the
few natural men who have managed to survive the barreness
of the wasteland and he confides above all in Crow who,
with his intelligence and vigour, may be able to recreate
a> human healthy world. So far, darkness reigns over his
wasteland, yet Hughes is still alive and kicking, ahd
light may eventually illuminate it again.
Idward Jamts Hughti waa bom on I'f August j 1930 j
in Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire.
Mytholmroyd is one of those small towns situated
in the Pennines, a "mere corridor" 1, as Ted Hughes himself
put it, between the cotton towns of Lancashire and
the woolen towns of West Hiding. Like all those small
towns in the Pennines, Mytholmroyd is a dark, windy, cold,
• wet place ■ wheEe>;. oiily r.the . .rain ' iiever tires: .’*■ ; ■ ,
with terraced houses, made of dark blocks of stone, lots
of small bridges crossing the narrow river, surrounded by
gorgeous trees and mountains.
It has produced harsh, strong, unsophisticated
people who talk loud, drink heavily, people who had to get
used to challenging nature, sturdy people like Ted Hughes’s
Dick Straightup.
It is also a country whose literary past is
associated, as in the work of the Brontes, with images of
starkness and violence, wildness and anger, and one
suspects there is more than a trace of Heathcliff buried
in the back of Ted Hughes’s mind.
Leaving the town, in a few minutes, one is in the
middle of a forest formed of valleys and mountains. In
the valleys, which are dark and shadowy, the river twists
and the birds seem to sing in chorus with the music of the
water striking on the pebbles. The valleys are quite
unspoiled as the farmers preferred to huild their houses
and cultivate their lands in the mountains.
The mountains have a most fascinating variegated
landscape. Beside the clean, civilized steepy cultivated
areas where one can see either cattle, sheep or crops,
; ; ; there are the irregular natural .vegetation, with „some ;, '
, shruh^ere and therfe, big and compact trees, dark rocks
and the moors - large platforms at the top of the
Ted Hughes loved the mountains and he felt that
there he escaped from the imprisoned world of the valley.
At the same time he felt "fastened into" ^ that place
by the "darkening presence"^: of the Scout Rocks:
Living beneath it was like living in a house
^ haunted by a disaster that nobody , can quite
believe ever happened, though it regularly
upsets sleep. 5
For him these were doomed, sinister rocks which both
attracted and disturbed him, as Penistone Crags disturbed
Cathy in Wuthering Heights. They invite one to die while
exhibiting life, they look dark but up there it is
bright.. Their mysterious appearance makes one speculate
about death and life • At the same time they excite
man’s imagination, they awake his fighting spirit,
providing him with means to survive this hostile world.
According to Ted Hughes,'
everything in Iciest Yorkshire is slightly un,-. ^
pleasant. Nothing ever quite escapes into
happiness. The people are not detached enough
from the stone, as if they were only half-born
from the earth, and the graves are too near the
surface. A disaster seems to hang around in the
air there for a long time. I can never escape
the impression that the whole region is in
mourning for the first world war. The moors
don't escape this, but they give the sensation
purely. And finally, in spite 'it, the mood
of moorland is exultant, and this is what I
remember of it. 6
In this "exultant" 7 but fatal spot, fish and
animals are plentiful and consequently fishing and hunting
became the favourite sport of the boy Ted. In
^etrv in the Making» a book the poet calls his autobiography,
he tells us that when he was a little boy
he used to collect toy animals. Somewhat older, he
started to model them and later on he acted as a
retriever of the animals his brother captured. When
he was fifteen he began to look at the animals "from
their own point of view" 8 and then began to write
poems, that is, from then on he transferred his interest
in hUJiting and fishing to the activity of writing poems.
He thus associates the poet with the animals. Both can
be prey and predatory, both can be trapped and must be
clever to escape from a world set with entrapments.
Both have to fight to survive in a universe which no
longer belongs to them. /
Another entertainment the boy Ted enjoyed was to
listen to the stories of ,World War One which his father
used to tell. William Hughes, his father, had been one
of those men chosen to enter the disastrous campaign of
the Dardanelles, which finally succeeded after one year
of war and filthy weather* William Hughes was one of the
seventeen men of his regiment who managed to come back.
A carpenter in his native town, he haunted the imagination
of his children with stories of horror, slaughter,death and
survival mixed with useless heroism and bravery.
When Ted Hughes was; about eight his family moved
to the industrial toi^m of Mexborough, South Yorkshire,
where his parents kept a newsagent’s and tobacconist's
shop. His brother hated the place and left home to become
av gamekeeper . The boy Ted lived a double life, one
with the town boys, sons of colliers and railwa3rmen, and
the other, a private on©, in the country* He confesses
that he "never mixed the two lives up, except once or
twice disastrously” 9, Soon he learned to separate his
inner world from his public life.
In 194-8 he won an Open E3diibition to Cambridge.
However, before he went to Cambridge he did two year's
duty in the National Service as a ground wireless
mechanic in the Royal Air Force, east Yorkshire. He
says that as there was nothing to do there, most of the
time he read Shakespeare.
In 1951 he went to Pembroke College, Cambridge,
where he took English as far as his third year when he
shifted to archaeology and anthropology. In Cambridge he
saw excellent plays and the only sport he practiced was
archery. He kept very much to himself and seldom went
to lectures. He disliked the sophistry of Cambridge,
i .17
which he found sterile and dead.
In 1954 Ted Hughes graduated, though he never
pursued an academic life. Instead, h© served as a
driver for an uncle of his who was travelling in the'
Continent and then worked as a. rose gardener, a night
watchman in a- steel works, a' zoo attendant and a reader
for J.Arthur Rank while he wrote and published poems
in the Cambridge maga^zines.- In a letter home, :^t, this■
'tim'e''5.^S7 l'via: Plath wrote::
I met the strongest man in the world, ez Cambridge,
brilliant poet, whose work I loved before I met
him, a large, hulking, healthy Adam, half French,
half Irish [and a good deal of Yorkshire farming ,
stock, too^ 5 with the voice like the thunder of
. God - a singer, storyteller, lion and world
wanderer, a vagabond who will never stop... 10 ^
■ V I^ Ted Hughes and a; group of . friends published a . ^
St. Botolph Review and this same' year ■
he married Sylvia, an American poet, a Fulbright at
Newham College, Cambridge. While^he finished her studies
Ted Hughes taught English and drama- in a secondary school.
After her graduation in 1957 they left for the States
where they lived for two years.
It may seem that their marriage would have been
an ideal partnership. They were both'devo.te.d' to poetry..
Sylvia introduced Ted to American poetry and it was:
thanks to her that Ted Hughes had his first book
published.- As there would be a competition for a first
book of poems in English sponsored by the Poetry Centre
1 8
of Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrevr Society of New
York, she carefully typed her husband’s poems and sent
them offo.. Among two hundred and eighty-seven entries.
The Hawk in the Rain was-: chosen to receive the prize,
which was Immediate publication by Harper« In this way
Ted Hughes had his first book published in the United
States before it was published in his own country.
He speaks about their life together:
After we’d returned to England and were living
in Chalcot Square, near' Primrose Hill, we would
each write poetry every day. It was all x-ie were
interested in, all we ever did. We were like,.two
feet, each one using everything the other did.
It was a working partnership and was allabsorbing.
We just lived it. There was an
unspoken unanimity in every criticism we
made.. It all fitted in very well. 11
IZ But this seemingly ideal "working partnership"' - ■
did not last very long. In I96Z Ted left the cottage they
had bought in Devon and went to London, where he lived
with another woman. Sylvia stayed in the cottage with
their children tmtil December, when she moved to a flat
in London, where she committed suicide the next year.
Ted'Hughes was accused of being responsible for- her
death despite the fact that'she had attempted suicide
before. Anyx>iay her death must haye been a terrible shock
for him. For four years he did not produce any book for
adults, but wrote only children's booksAs
Anthony Libby writes:
"Ted" and "Sylvia" threaten to ‘become the Scott and
Zelda of our time, though Ted has fewer defenders
than Scott. 13
Ted had his privacy invaded and different versions of his
life ran freely about in the gossip of poetry circles^« He
was constantly invited to interviews, where he would not
speak of their private life or of his personal feelings.
For some people Sylvia had become the victim and he the
Although Sylvia never made any open accusation
against Hughes, reading her poems carefully we may
glimpse some of her feelings toward her husband. In her
well-known poem "Daddy", which we can assume to refer to
Ted Hughes, she accuses him of being a "fascist", a
"brute" and it appears; to me that she first loved him
for these qualities:
Every woman adores a-; Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you. l4
In his book The Art of Ted Hughes^ Sagar maintains
that Sylvia once declared that she married Ted because
"he was simply the only man I could never boss..." 15
For seven years they lived happy moving from one place to
another till they finally settled down in Devon. One
year later, however, they separated and Sylvia seemed
to resent the "vampire" who "drank Fher”" blood" W
l8 for "seven years" ■
You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white.
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo,
Daddy, I have had to kill you® 19
However, it seems that in exorcizing Ted's fatherly
power over her, she was also destroying herself.
Exhausted, with one nervous breakdoxm after another,
suffering the cold of the winter without her beloved
Ted, she killed herself.
And he survived everp:thing: the pain, the
horror, the terrible accusations aga-inst him. He was
tough. Nurtured on stories of murder, among harsh
people, capturing animals and fish in a hostile weather,
Ted Hughes could overcome death. Perhaps Sylvia's
masochism had the effect of arousing his sadism. His
books became more sinister, heavier, but also more
mature, more compact, more allegorical because the poet
had gone down deep into thé bottom of the pit. As
David Porter states, for Hughes the function of the
contemporary poet is> that of a; scavenger.
The litter of his world includes surreal
/ experience: dreams, nightmares, mdness, ;-
terror, bestiality, automatism ... 20
These constitute the matter for poetry. Thus negative
experience has merely provided him with more material
to fill in his dark and passionate vision of men and the
world at large..
Ted Hughes’s animal poetry matures with the poet
himself» His vision of life, man, animal and the world
can be clearly traced if we read his poems chronologically».
That is the reason why this chapter will primarily
use a chronological criterion as I think that only thus
can we impose some logical pattern on the development
of Ted Hughes's "violent" art«
With the publication of every new book, Ted
Hughes’s reputation as an animal poet increased. This
is due to the complexity with which he treats animals
and to the richer ssnnbolism of successive poems» The
animals do not multiply in number as might be expected»
On the contrary, they decrease in number, size and
strength at the same time that their cosmos becomes
inhospitable to them. Then they give place to man,
allegorized in animal shape. As a consequence of this
change of focus, man - with all his incertitudes,
frustrations, ambitions, wishes, meaness and tensions -
is turned into the main motif in his last book». And
his is a world which is not suited to innbcent beings,
beings without malice or second thoughts, such as
animals and children®
In Ted Hughes’s first book, The Hawk in the Rain,
the animals are happy and free. They live in a world
vrhich has room enough for them;
The apes yawn and adore their fleas in the sun.
The parrots shriek as; if they were on fire, or strut
Like cheap tarts to attract the stroller with the
nut 6-
Fatigued with indolence, tiger and lion
Lie still in the sun»- 1
These animals5 however, will rebel at anyone’s
attempt to invade their privacy* Violently,they preserve
their dignity, their right to live undisturbed;
All day he stares at his furnace
With eyes red-raw, but when she comes they close
‘^'Polly». Pretty Poll; she cagoles-, and rocks him
She caresses, whispers kisses*. The blue lids stay
She strikes the cage in a tantrum and swirls out;-
Instantly beak, wings, talons crash
The bars in conflagration and frenzy.
And his shriek shakes the house* 2
All the animals in The Hawk in the Rain care :
; about is to live their 'owtii life/asr they like itv ■Ih:^thisri v ■
i : way^ ’ the hawk/li?; ,^h© 'firs ,poem? :6f^:the .b66k;'flies:;:highei^:aiid'
'v: /higher^j/ jrelaxed',:.-powerfulchallenging the hacking- raint
His wings hold all creation in a weightless quiet,
Steady as a; hallucination in the streaming air* 3
Regardless of the fact that eventually the hawk, .
trapped by the horizon, falls dox^m and his "heart's blbod"^
is mixed x^ith the “mire of the land’*' 5^ the hawk's power'
is envied by man who5 impotent and unimaginative, can only
watch the bird's ''hallucination"' 6^. He contemplates: the
flight of the V7hite bird who does- not a>ccept interference
of anyone5 not even of the weather* >/hile the hawk
chooses his ow i destiny the man5 too timorous to dare
anything5 sticks to earths
Bloodily grabbed dazed last-moaent-counting
Morsel in the earth's mouthj strain toward the
of violence where the: hax-irk hangs- still» 7
However in a humanized world there is no room for
such haughty5 brave, daring, solitary being as the haxik.
Perhaps that is x^rhy when he makes his second appearance,
in Lupercailo the hawk looks quite different» Egocentric,
proud, boastful, too conscious of being self-sufficient,
the hawk worries only about imposing his position in the
I sit in the top of the wood, my eyes closed».
Inaction, no falsefjring dream
Between my hooked head and hooked feetr
Or in sleep rehearse perfect kills and eat. ^
Since everything has been created for his .
convenience, the hawk becomes the Creator himself.
Everything revolves around himo This emphasis is given
by the repetitive use of pronouns of the first persons
It took the whole of Creation
... To produce my footj my each feather
Now I hold.Creation in my foot
■ ; ^ . Or fly up, and revolve it all slowly -
I kill where I please because it is all mine«9 ,
No doubts are shoxvn by this roosting hawk. He is
quite sure of his animal power and he wants it to be
acknowledged® He will killj if necessary® No scruples,
no fear will stop this bird who feels superior even to
the sun®.. A M.achiavelian, he holds everything and everyone
around him in contempt® He looks like a totalitarian
white god. " [His 2 flight is direct" 10, He admits no
"falsifying dreams" 11. This may be the reason why, in
splt^e' of the violence displayed by the hawk, he is
always related to the sun, the a'ir, the wood. The whiteness
of this bird, in both poems, can be a symbol for his
authenticityj for the fearlessness to say and to do what
he pleases*
In The Hawk in the Rain the animals are instinctive,
Violent in defense of their freedom and their
individuality. They admit no interference in their lives.
For instance, "The Jaguar": despite being caged, the
jaguar is free. It is the crowd who "stands, stares,
mesmerized" 12 at him who is imprisoned. The jaguar
is a sturdy, independent animal who does not need to
watch man to survive a Sunday or a holiday* Like the
hawk, he is lonely, free, genuinely violent:
But who runs like the rest past these arrives
At a cage where the crowd stands5 stares, mesmerized.
As a child at a dream, at a jaguar hurrying enraged
Through prison darkness after the drills of his eyes
Or a short fierce’ fuse'Not in. boredom -
Th© ey© satisfied to be blind in fire5
By the bang of blood in the brain deaf the ear -
He spins from the bars, but there’s no cage to him
More than to the visionary his cells
His stride is wilderness of freedom:
The world rolls under the long thrust of his heel.
Over the cage the horizons come« 13
Taking a "Second Glance at a Jaguar"5 in Wodwo,
we will find a different kind of beast® Here he has lost
his naturalness, he is cautious9 self-conscious, malevolents
At every stride he has to turn a corner
In himself and correct ito His head
Is like the worn dox-m stump of another whole jaguar.
His body is just the engine shoving it forward,
Lifting the air up and shoving on under.
The weight of his fangs hanging the mouth open.
Bottom jaw combing the ground» A gorged look.
Gangster, club-tail lumped along behind gracelessly,
He*s wearing, himself to heavy ovals.
Muttering some mantrah, some drura-song of murder
To keep his rage brightening, making his skin
Intolerable, spurred by the rosettes, the cain-brands,
Wearing the spots off from the inside.
Rounding some revenge* Going like a prayer-wheel.
The head dragging forward, the body keeping up
The hind legs lagging. He coils, he flourishes
The blackjack tail as if looking for a target,
Hurrying through the underworld, soundless, lli
Though a "Second Glance at a Jaguar" is an excellent
poem^ we do not feel that ;here the jaguar is just an
animal* It is rather the symbol for man's unconsciousness
or man's hidden motiveso The second jaguar is careful,
suspicious 5 undemonstrative5 mute in his rage while the
first one roars a'loud displa3ring all his natural bravery
and anger© One may be afraid of the first jaguar v;hen he
roars violentlyj but it is the second jaguar that is
dangerous» He is deceitfulj a Cainj who would murder hisr
o w i brother®. He cultivates his "rage brightening" 15 to
satisfy his murderous instincts5 though he only acts slyly
5 like a gangster oOnce
asked if the 'jaguars should be celebrated
as symbols of violence, Ted' Hughes replied?
A jaguar after all can be received in several
different aspects o®« he is a beautiful, powerful
nature spirit5 he is a homicidal maniac, he
is a supercharged piece of cosmic machinery, he
is a symbol of man's baser nature shoved down
into the id and growing cannibal murderous with
deprivation, he is an ancient symbol of Dionysus
since he is a- leopard raised to the ninth power,
he is a precise historical symbol of the bloodyminded
Aztecs and so on« Or he is simply a
demon a lump of ectoplasm« A lump of astral
energy«, 16
In The Hawk in the Rain the hawk, the jaguar, the
macaw and the horses impose their presence as strong,
violent, self-confident animals, separate from man« In
this book there are two distinct levels, man and animals
I (who stands for the poet himself or the human ego) and
. , 27,
the hawk; the crowd and the jaguar5 I (the poet or human
ego) and the horses/ the fox. The animals are the
central figures, however. In them there is a longing
for liberty, for action, for independence, as there is
in man himself.
In Lupercal, by contrast5 there is a greater
variety of animals5 though they are not so big and strong.
Reduced to living in a civilized5 over-humanized world
they begin to miss their natural wildness« Some of them
are even victimized5 like the dog5 the goat and the rat.
The line of division between man and animal starts to
disappears this is very clear in the poem "Thrushes"5
where Ted Hughes opposes the thrushes* straightforwardness
to man^s dissimulation0,
Terrifying are the attent thrushes on the lawn^
More coiled steel than living - a poised
Dark deadly eye, those delicate legs
Triggered to stirrings beyond sense - with a start,
a bounce, a stab
Overtake the instant and drag out some withing
No indolent procrastinations and no yawning stares,
No sighs or head-scratchingso Nothing but bounce
and stab
And a ravening second«»
With a man it is otherwiseoHeroisms on horseback.
Outstripping his desk-diary at a broad desk.
Carving at a tiny ivory ornament
For yearss his act worships itself - while for him,
Though he bends to be blent in the prayer, how loud
and above what
Furious spaces of fire do the distracting devils ,
Orgy and hosannah, under what wilderness
Of black silent waters weep. 17
While the thrushes behave naturally following
their own wishes and needs, man's attitudes are
premeditated, aiming at prestige. Evasively the poet
seems to warn us that we should beware man. Only of
genius, like Mozart, or children still act automatically.
It appears to me that Ted Hughes is saying that man has
lost his capacity to act' instinctively because of his
habit of mentalizing everything: thinking either delays
or prevents actions and decisions.-
This may be the reason why Ted Hughes favours
cats«. With all their spontaneousness, sensuousness and
mischievousness they have "outwitted our nimblest wits" 18
and with their "fully nine lives" 19 they are wiser than
man« In the tom-cat we have the picture of the "machão"
and we feel that the poet does appreciate this "machão",
as he appreciates the bull Moses' conduct, which is very
different from the cats' - serene, modest, quiet, but
firm and imposing as “'machões" 5 attitudes are supposed
to be.
Though the bull Moses is obedient to the farmer
as Moses, his predecessor, had been to his Lord, he is
quite conscious of his masculinity. He does not have to
boast as the, hawk does, because deep inside he knows
that his eternity will be preserved through his
descendents. Indifferent to the world around him and
to men, he self-confidently lives his own life, modest-
ly but impo singly?:
Something come up there onto the brink of the gulf.
Hadn’t heard of the world, too deep in itself to be
called to 5
Stood in sleep. He would swing his muzzle at a fly
But the square of sky where I hung, shouting,waving,
Was nothing to him 5 nothing of our light
Found any reflection in him. 20
Mature5 he has already reached the state of fulfilment,
which is timeless. He is whole and quite aware
that we are living in a
Time and a- world .
Too old to alter. 21
Opposing the tranquillity of the bull Moses there
come the pike, who look demonic, possessed, in their
sensuous movement of colour and life. They figure forth
very well the instability and consequent dissatistaction
of man in this world?
Pike, three inches long, perfect
Pike in all parts, green tigering the gold.
Killers from the egg? the malevolent aged grin.
They dance on the surface among the flies.
Or move, stunned by their own grandeur.
Over a bed of emerald, silhouette
Of submarine delicacy and horror.
A hundred feet long in their world. ,
In ponds, under the heat-struck lily pads 4
Gloom of their stillness? ^
Logged on last year’s black leaves, watching ■upwards:*.
Or hung in an amber cavern of weeds ^
The jaws’ hooked clamp and fangs;
Not to be changed at this date,
A life subdued to its' instrument?
The gills kneading quietly, and the pectorals.
The pike grow bigger'and bigger,, older and olderv
Yet they decrease in number;- as' one eats^ the other in a
kind of competition which destroys- ruthlessly whoever
comes in their way«. Unscrupulously they search for a
place in this world. At last the pike become so huge
that, the poet in desperation fishes; "Tor'what might move,.
23 for what eye might move" but he loses control of the
pike as the Creator- seems to have lost control of man.
Here there is an implication that the pike is in man,too, ,
It could be the symbol for man’s desire to survive and to
dominate and this desire seems; insatiable. When we :' .
realize that the pike are one of the most vicious and /
voracious freshwater fish in Britain, the violence of :
this s3rmbol shocks us. Though we; are told at the |
beginning that the pike are innate assassins ("killers;
from the egg"^), they become more and more frightening
since their one objective in life seems to be to smash
each other. In fact, this poem gives a terrifying
picture of man and our modern society.
Another poem in Lupercal which portrays the
modern man is "An Otter", which is "neither fish nor
beast"^^, living in the sea and on the earth, without
any definite characteristic. The otter is a Proteus,
sans any fixed identity and as such Itr
Wandersj cries;/
Gallops along land he no longer belongs to;
by melting. 26
Thus it is like one of those never-satisfied human
beings, going from one place to another, attempting to
settle dom, but always failing because they lack a
definition and so cannot be identified« The otter is
everything: a prey and a predator, a seeker and a searcher,
a loser and a winner. That is, the otter is everything
and nothing. In death, finally, the otter becomes
something, "a long pelt over the back of a chair" 27.
Similarly, the pig‘s, the goat's and the dog’s
"dignity" 28 and "mindless pride" 29 are"entirely gone"30
in death. All their individuality vanishes. Poor
animals, so "fast" 31, "nimble" 32, "hot-blooded" 33^
cruelly sacrificed to satisfy man's appetitel... These
animals are victims of man, who kill them because they
do not "seem able to accuse" 34.
In Lupercal man and animal start to merge into
one and it starts to be difficult to tell one from the
other« Thus instead of. two levels^ man versus animal,
we have just one which we could call of "humanized
In Wodwo Ted Hughes's animal heroes are no
longer predatory. They are rather prey, like the rat
and the gnat. The big animals cease to be heroes of the
poems and function rather as images, symbols for human
Let us illustrate this statement by taking as
example a big animal who has already made his presence
in his previous books: the horse® In The Hawk in the
Rain the horses appear as large, powerful animals in
their own vrorld, segregated from man» It is man who
goes to their world in search of a truth, of consciousness»
In fact, the shock of the encounter seems to
bring a kind of revelation to man, which is later on
recollected as a means to endure life in the big city:
And I saw the horses:
Huge in the dense grey - ten together -
Megalith-stille They breathed, making no move,
With draped manes and tilted hind-hooves,
Making no sound«
I passed: not one snorted or jerked its head®
Grey silent fragments
Of a grey silent world.
In din of the crowded streets, going among the
years, the faces.
May I still meet my memory in so lonely a place
Between the streams and the red clouds, hearing
Hearing the horizons endure, 35
In Lupercal the horses appear in a dream as
symbols of man’s primitive desires, which he tries to
repress« In consequence, they come as violently as an
Out of the night that gulfed beyond the palace-gate
There shook hooves and hooves and hooves of horses:
Our horses battered their stalls; their eyes jerked
white o.
And we ran out, mice in our pockets and straw in
our hair,
Into darkness that was avalaching to horses
And a quake of hooveso Our lantern's little orange
!Made round mask of our each sleep-dazed face.
Bodiless, or el^e bodied by horses
That whinnied and bit and cannoned the world from
its place«,
The tall palace was so white, the moon was so round.
Everything else this plunging of horses
To the rim of our eyes that strove for the shapes
of the sound« 36
The violent appearance of the horses does man
goodo The heavy hooves of the horses satisfy man's
desires and make him sleep. In this way the human
response to violence seems to be masochistic:
And we longed for a death trampled by such horses
As every grain of the earth had hooves and mane«
We must have fallen like drunkards into a dream
Of listening, lulled by the thunder of the horses«
We awoke stiffj broad day had come. 37 ,
This longing for the "horses" has become an
obsession to man and the poet uses an interesting ■
technique to point it out. Every second line of the
first eight stanzas is closed with the word "horses"
and the three lines of the last stanza are also ended
up with the word "horses"»
In "The Rain Horse" (Wodwo) a young man comes back
to his native place to find out that in twelve years nothing
had changed there® Nevertheless:
Twelve years had changed him« This land no
longer recognized himj and he looked back at it
coldlyj as at a finally visited home-country,
known only through the stories of a grandfather 5
felt nothing but the dullness of feeling nothing.
Boredom® Then, suddenly, impatience, with a
x-ihole exasperated swarm of little anxieties about
■ ~ his shoes 5 and the spitting rain and his new suit
and that sky and the two-mile trudge through the
mud back to the roado 38
The young man, in the new suit^ worried about
the damage the rain will do to his shoes, wants to have
ail the ties with the earth broken up® He does not want
to belong to that land any more, that land which makes
him "feel so outcast5 so old and stiff and stupid" 39* ,
He wants to be a refined man of the toxim® The author
cleverly presents the land as a kind of mirror to the
reality the man wants to hide from himself®
To bring the man back to reality Hughes
introduces a horse into the story, a "black horse" 40
xiho rxins -
across the ploughland towards the hill, its
head doxm, neck stretched out® It seemed to'
be running on its toes like a cat, like a dog
up to no good® 41
From then on the pace of the narrative goes faster and
faster« We read the story as if we were watching a
terror film.
The "black horse" looks demonic in his determination
to persecute the young man who wants to uproot himself
from his native place* Wherever he goes^ there the
"black horse" is 5 "tall as a statue" 42^ threatening
him* The young man tries to run away from him, but the
horse is so develish that he cannot escape him, not even
can he make friends with himr
He took control of himself and turned back
deliberately, determined not to give the horse
one more thought® If it xmnted to share the wood
with him, let it* ^If it wanted to stare at him,
let ito He was nestling-firmly into these
resolutions when the ground shook and he heard'
the crash of a heavy body coming down the wood«,
Like lightning his legs bounded him upright and
about face« The horse was almost on top of him,
—its head stretching forwards, ears flattened and
lips lifted back from the long yellow teeth* He
got one snapshot glimpse of the red-veined eyeball
as he flung himself backwards around the
tree« Then he was away up the slope, whipped by
^ oak twigs as he leapt the brambles and brushwood,
twisting between the close trees till he
tripped and sprawled*. As he fell the warning
flashed through his head that he must at all ;
costs keep his suit out of the leaf-mould, but
a more urgent instinct was already rolling him
violently sideways* He spun around, sat up
and looked back, ready to scramble off in a
flash to one side* He was panting from the
sudden excitement and effort® The horse had
: disappeared*43
But the horse is inexhaustible» He returns and
the youngster starts a "bombardment” UU of stones at the
animal till he gets tired with the "unaccustomed exercise'j. ^5,
just to find the horse there staring at him»
The author gives such a vivid description of the
fight that we wonder X'fhether the horse is real or an
image of the "otherness" of man. To me it seems that by
persecuting the animal, the man is persecuting "the other"
that tries to possess himc When we consider that, like
manj the horse is a domestic animal-we realize how great
man’s rebellion is® He has become so sophisticated that
he wants to ignore nature® Thence the violence of the
fight when man is forced to come back to his origins, . .
.. The exhausting fightj in which man has the ,
opportunity to release his "savage energy" 46- reconciles
man with himself and he becomes whole again« It brings / ’
him some peace or5 at least, resignations '
^ - Piece by piece he began to take off his clothesj ’ ' -
wringing the grey water out of them, but soon he
stopped that and just sat staring at the ground,
as if some important part had been cut out of
his brain« 47
Wot only big animals become symbols in P/odwojburb
small animals also do« Ted Hughes m.akes use of the
crabs to show how man has been dehumanized. Gigantic,
but empty-minded, the crabs act mechanically like the
efficient machines man has invented and to x>rhich he
finally became a slaver
These crabs own this world«
All night, around us or,
They stalk each otherj they fasten on to each other5
They mount each other, they tear each other to pieces.
They utterly exhaust each other®
They are the powers of this world. ■
In a world x^rhich whirls quicker and quicker the
crabs, like men, have no time to stop and reconsider things,
make friends, helpo Every day they resume the same
activities they had done the day before, soulessly but
efficientiyo Their day is lived to exhaustion, while
ma-n lives only the time which is left from their works
We are their bacteria.
Dying their lives and living their deathso k 9
Man has become so mechanized, so boring, so
alike that he has even x^rearied Godo In his possessionmania
man is only interested in accumulating things,
which come to mean nothing since he has not learned how
to enjoy them® He has become blind, dumbs
Or we j'erk awake to 'the world of our possessions
With a gasp,in a sweat burst,brains jamming blind
Into the bulb-lighto Sometimes,for minutes,a sliding
Staring \
Thickness of silence
Presses between uso 50
Instead of helping man to live a full life^ the
crabs, xmo stand for modern machinery, have monopolized
him® He no. longer can do without them. Here lies the .
y irony of the problems invented to serve man,, .they have
become man®s masterso
This may be the reason why in "Skylarks" Ted
Hughes suggests that the values of this world should be
changed s'
To supplant
Life from its centreo 51
But the skylarks5 though sensitive, lack creative
power to make such a .changée This is a point Ted
Hughes batters home repeatedly,. Like soldiers they can
only follow orderso Commanded to climb on and on and to
sing they obediently do soo Thus they sing "Joyi" in
their capacity to rise 5 weightless 5 alert and with clear
conscience5 but they also call for help® "HelpJ" for
thi^uneasy globe5 for the cruelty the world has been
immersed into5 for the creatures who have been enslaved,
for all the soldiers of this world who are commanded to
struggle and to die without ever knowing why® And the
skylarks can do nothing effective, as they are just
^'the mad earth's missionaries*' 52^ Like the poet they
can only sing and cry« .
Sensitivity, is not enough, Ted Hughes seems
to say® One has to be daring, fearless, challenging
like the gnats, who are identified with God in "Gnat
Psalm"o We can feel the poet's admiration for the gnats,
the same admiration he displayed for the first hawk and
jaguar® The gnats will never let themselves be slaves,
as "they are their o\>m sun" 53® Conscious of their
strength they will do whatever pleases them^ bravely®
39 they will rather die than, give iney The 'gnats
stand for the independent but detached thinkers 'of'OuryV:;;^
days and as such the poet salutes themr ;
0 little Hasids
Ridden to death by your ovm bodies
Riding your bodies to death
You are the angels of the only heaven! 54
Nonetheless if one is too small one has to yield
to the strength of the stronger« Ted Hughes seems to
manifest this opinion in the short story “Sunday"» A
rat fights desperately for its libertyj but he cannot
cope with man^ who takes advantage of the rat's smallness
to impose his superiorityo Besides.^ the man, the
rat-catcher5 does not act alone-o He is helped by other
men in the pursuit of the poor animal® This man has
lost all human dignity and not gained the dignity of
the rat he persecutes?
Scarecrox^i'ish, taxmy to colourless, exhausted,
this was Billy Red, the rat-catcher. As a
sideline he kept hens and he had something of
the raw, flea-bitten look of a red hen, with
his small, sunken features and gingery hair I
ooo His voice was not strong ~ Imigless, a
shaky wisp, full of hen-fluff and dust. 55
All this man wants is some free pints of beer«
After fighting in vain for its freedom, the rat understands
and gives in;
The caught rat, not quite convinced before but
now understanding the whole situation, doubled
round like a thing without bones, and bit and
shook the bars and forced its nose out between
them to get at the string that held its buttocks
tight to the cage side» .»» Then the rat
startled everybody» Squeezing still farther
into its corner, it opened its mouth wide and
began to scream - a harsh, ripping, wavering
scream travelling out over the yard like some
thin, metallic, dazzling substance that decomposed
instantly». As one scream died the
rat started another, its mouth wide.
»»«All at once it crouched in a corner, silent.
«»»The freed rat pulled its tail in delicately
and sniffed at the noose: round it, ignoring
the wide-open door. 56
In this story Ted Hughes draws an excellent
contrast between man's violence and the animal's. The
animal, he suggests, only kills to protect himself and
his breed whereas man kills for any sort of prize.-
Purthermore, as man possesses the knowledge of good and
evil, his violence i's perverse - he goes against nature»
An animal never over-kills as man does». The animal's
violence is instinctive, natural» It means selfpreservation,
love, life» The violence of over-civilizedl
man, however, is a blood-lust, a desire to kill for the
sake of killing.
Roles have been changed in this short story.
While the rat becomes more human in his capacity to
understand and to suffer, man becomes more inhuman in
his v/ish to survive no matter how. In my opinion,
this inversion of values is the principal innovation
in the animal-images of Wodwo,
In book after book the animals dwarf down in
beauty, size, vigour and elegance till they are reduced
to,a black, filthy, sensuous, cynical bird: the crow.
As should b© ©xpectôdj this reduction and the violence
of Hughes’s metaphor, roused much protest..
Galled to explain his .creation, Ted Hughes wrote:
No-body knows quite how he was created, or how
he appeared. He was created by God’s nightmare
..«He is a' man to correct man, but of
course he’s not a man, he’s a crow: he never
I does quite become a man ... The crow is the
most intelligent of the birds.. He lives in
just about every piece of land on earth ...
No carrion will kill a crow. The crow is the
indestructible bird who suffers everjrthing,
suffers nothing - like Horatio, 57
Crow was hatched in "a black rainbow/ Bent in
emptiness/ over emptiness" 58« His first scream was for
"Blood/ Grubs, crusts/ Anything 5^. Incidentally, it is,
significant that words like "black", "blood", "grubs",
"crusts" are recurring images used in reference to Crow.
Having had such a beginning Crow becomes invulnerable
to any kind of finesse-. He is physical,
"earthy" he can enjoy sex, but not love. His
world is different from the other birds’. While the
eagle, the curlew, the swallow, the swift, the owl, the
sparrow, the heron, the bluetit, the woodpecker, thç
peewit, the bullfinch, the goldfinch, the wrsmeck and
the dipper remain in their o\m world, which is clean and
pure. Crow comes do^m to the world of men "spraddled
head-down in the heach-garbage, guzzling a dropped
ice-cream" 61.
Crow is an outcast in the world of birds and an
outcast in the world of men as well. Unable to understand
the world's infinitude,* he is content in merely
existing® He does not try to improve anything in himV
self or in the world« He watches everything rather
cynically5 receives what is his (iue, takes profit of
whatever he can, but never gives anything in exchange«
It is this brutal, selfish attitude of Crow, which makes
him so man-like, that has shocked lots of critics and
In his attempt to survive, he gives up any
metaphysical speculation and searches for something
to eat6 In this way he becomes more and more insensitive«
Insensitive to tears, war, murder, death;’
Then everybody wept.
Or sat,too exhausted to'weep.
Or lay,too hurt to weep®
And when the smoke cleared it became clear
This had happened too often before
And was going to happen too often in future
And happened too easily
Bones were too like lath and twigs
Blood was too like water
Cries were too like silence
The most terrible grimaces too like footprints
in mud
And shooting somebody through the midriff
Was too like ' striking a match '
Too like potting a snooker ball
Too like tearing up a bill
Blasting the whole world to bits
Was too like slamming a door
Too like dropping in a chair
Exhausted with rage
Too like being blo’tm to bits yourself
Which happened too easily
With too like no consequenceso
’ V ■
So the survivors stayed^,^^
And Crow is nothing but b "*survivor, a survivor
in this world where words are voluminous but meaningless,
X'/here happy moments last only seconds 5 vrhere man is unable
to smile«
Dissatisfied with the things around him, he
tries to correct them« Yet his efforts serve only to
make people more confused, trees older, things obscure
- "charred black” 63 _ ^^d the world more chaotic:■
VJhen God, disgusted with man.
Turned towards heaven»
And man, disgusted with God, '
Turned towards Eve,
Things looked like falling apart«
But Crox^r Crow
Crow nailed them together,
Nailing Heaven and earth together -
So man cried, but with God‘s voice.
And God bled, but with man's blood® 6-^
There is nothing he can do because the root ;of
the evil is inside himself, not in the external world.
where he looks for it: '
VJhere is the Black Beast?
Croxf sat in its chair, telling loud lies against
the Black Beast.
Where is it?
Crow shouted after midnight, pounding the wall
with a last.
Where is the Black Bea^si^?,
Crow split his enemy'^ltkull to the pineal gland«. 6^
* vQuestions
are put, but ap .answers are given. In
a x^rorld where everyone wants to evade it is wiser not to
respond directly to any question® Actually no-one seems
prepared to face truth.
Crow is brave enough to interfere in other
people's lives, but not to go deep inside himself and
try to eradicate a most disconcerting feeling of inner
How can he fly from his feathers?
And why have they homed on him?
His prison is the earth. 66
As an unwilling participant in this universe, he
cannot be of any use:
He knew he was the wrong listener unwanted
To understand or help - 67
He is a prisoner of himself, like we all are,
prisoners of our limitations, prejudices, fears:
So he gazes into the quag of the past
Like a g jp s j into the crystal of the future, 6^
And he sees no changes® Crow tries religionj
science 5 philosophy5 yet they are of no avail to him®
The only "leftover" 69 ±^1 this "deathless greatness/
Lonelier than ever" ^ Crow is the hero of our modern
world, the anti-hero: small5 callous5 greedy, unstable,
uneasy, inconsistentj unreliable, insatiable, omnipresent
without the omniscience and thef^omhipotence of God®
In contrast with the predatory heroic hawk. Crow
is anti-heroico. The violence a-re'uifd him is the violence
• ^
of the over-civilized man who does not kill directly,
who does not speak plainly, vrho does not behave instinctively,
who does not roar with laughter or tears when he
is too happy or too sad« It is the violence which comes
wrapped up in lovely packets-« It hurts more than the
jaguar's because it takes one unawares» It may kill,
but if it does, it kills slowly, cautiously,
With the figure of this vicious, ugly, ill-omen
bird_^Ted Hughes drew the picture of modern man,
disensitized by the over-humanization and mechanization
of highly-civilized countries, like England, for
example« Crow is the "aniraalized human"' which comes
to contrast with the "humanized animals" of Lupercal
and Wodwo «
As a summary of this discussion on the animals
I believe we could separate them into three categories:-
1« animals as animals, ioe«-, irrational, instinctive,
such as, the first hawk, the first jaguar, the cats,
the dog, the thrushes, the goat« To the spectacle
of violence5 they v/ill respond with violence;
Zo humanized animals5 iee®., animals who keep their physical
shape and still they are sensitive enough to suffer
like any human being; the rat, the skylarks, the
gnatso Victims of the violence of man and the worldf
3«- animalized human 5 iaOoj an animal physically speaking
yet with all the psychological and mental
characteristics of man«;- He has become so harsh,
so callous that he can even engpy the violence of
the universe» He is rather ironical towards it.
Also I found that Ted Hughes presents us with a
dual hero; the hawk and the crowo
The hawk (white, authentic, literally violent)
dominates Hughes’s early woüko He is Hughes's animal
heroo The crow (black, mischievous, figuratively
violent) dominates his late worko The crow is Hughes*s'.
animalized anti-hero, a human allegorized as bird.
The supplanting of the feudal hawk by the proletarian
crow has been a natural process of evolution. v;hen
animal automatism gave way to man's self-consciousness,
the whiteness of the hawk had to yield to the blackness
of the crow.
Vihen the present writer was in Edinbiirgh, in 1977,
a stranger asked me what I was doing in Britain. As I
replied that I was working on the poetry of Ted Hughesj
he questioned again? "Ted Hughes, the poet who was
involved in the murder of Sylvia Plath?"
And this is how Ted Hughes's reputation runs: as
a lady-killer«,- The questioner confessed that he had
never reaxi any of Hughes-:'s poems, that this fact was:
all he knew about Ted'Hughes;«.
Of course, Hughes did not kill his first wife«.
At the time Sylvia Platli committed suicide, Ted Hughesand
Sylvia' were separated, living in different parts of
Britain« Besides, Sylvia had attempted suicide several
times' before' she finally succeeded« Her poetry is
haunted with the presence of death
In this chapter I will consider"violence"
primarily under the aspect of misogyny: in Plath's
poetry grounds have often been found for this
accusation« Subtly she portrays Hughes as a sort of
tyrant, a man in "black coat, black shoes and black
hair" 1, a patriarchal, impenetrable,"inscrutable" 2.
man, a god from whose "kingdom" 3 g^e feels " -exileci
to no good" 4. He lookjs like'the, god pos;ses:sed: by
divinus furor and she the victim trapped in his nets.
For years she tried hard to understand him, to fit
together every small piece of that enormous man
vfho was a giant to her 5 to make sense of the Colossus he
was5 but all her efforts were in vains
Scaling little ladders with gluepots and pails
of lysol
I crawl like an ant in mourning
Over the x-reedy acres of your brow
To mend the immense skull plates and clear
The bald white tumuli ofNyour eyes® 5
In her letters home Sylvia always stressed the
admiration she felt for Ted Hughes's health, vigour and
"hugeness" 6^, For his strong male qualities she
identified him x^rith the father who died in her early
It is heaven to have someone like Ted who is
so kind and honest and brilliant ~ always
stimulating me to study, think, draw and
write® He is better than any teacher, even
fills somehow that huge, sad hole I felt in
having no father» 7
In his poetry, too, Hugheses attitude towards
women is disconcerting» We have to go on reading one
book after the other, paying special attention to the
treatment he gives to women to be able to understand
his ambivalent attitude»
In the lyric "Song", one of his first poems to
be printed (it was published in the St^ Botolph Reviewy
Cambridge, 1956), he addresses himself to a "lady" who
is an unreachable, beloved goddess» For a full
appreciation of the poem I x^rill quote it in full:
■ k9
0 lady, when the tipped cup of the moon blessed you
You became soft fire with a cloud's grace;
The difficult stars swam for eyes in your face;
You stood, and your shadow was my place;
You turned, your shadow turned to ice
0 my lady®
0 lady, when the sea caressed you
You were a marble of foam, but dumb*
When x^rill the stone open its tomb?
VJhen will the waves give over their foam?
You will not die, nor come home,
0 my lady«
0 lady, when the wind kissed you
You made him music for you were a shaped shell.
1 follow the waters and the wind still
Since my heart heard it and all to pieces fell
Which your lovers stole, meaning ill,
0 my lady«
0 lady, consider when I shall have lost you
The moon's full hands, scattering waste,
The sea's hands, dark from the world's breast.
The world's decay where the wind’s hands have passed,
And my head, worn out with love, at rest
. . : In my hands, and my hands full of dust, .^ ' ^
0 my lady« ^
By the gentle language, the nostalgic tone , the^v
Petrarchan treatment of the theme, we might assign.this; ;
song to the romantic or even to an earlier period« The
language is highly respectful® Abstract terms and imagery
abound in this poemr "blessed”, "soft", "grace", "shadow",
"love", "the difficult stars svram for eyes in your face",
"a marble of foam", "my head worn out with love". The
lady is. compared to the distant "moon" and is, worshipped ' , ■
as an ,enigmatic madonna set on a pedestal® ,
The same admiration he devotes to this,.”lady" in \
The Hawk in the Rain is devoted to the “Moimtains" in a' ;
later. book ^ Wodwo » The mountains'.are also distant,
;/solid5 unattainable 5 content in their eternity:- : v ^
They were there yesterday and the world before
Content with the inheritance.
Having no need to labour, only to possess the days.
Only to possess their power and their presence,
Smiling on the distance, their faces lit with the
Of the father's will and testament,
Wearing flowers in their hair, decorating their limbs
With the agony of love and the agony of fear and the
agony of death« 9
In, spi’fe of the formal and heiratic terms: "content”,
"peace", "agony of love", "agony of fear", "agony of death",
the language in this poem is more domestic: "I am. a fly if
these' are not stones", "wearing flowers in their hair,
decorating their limbs", "having no need to labour". But
the beloved one is still an archetypal, supernatural
figure of a woman symbolized by the mountains®
lîi Crow "She" comes back in the form of an
anonymous v/oman® Coming back "She" brings perpetuity
to the race, "She" brings hope, love and above all ”She"brl'ngs:
realization in love® No longer untouchable, faultless
or .eterr^al, "She" brings life to this xiorld. An ;
adorable mixture of woman and goddess, "She": lives the
life that is offered her, is content and brings contentmento
'^She" is perfect within her limitationso "She",
is still a goddess5 but a goddess of the modern world,
no longer symbolized by the "moon", but by the "city",
which is an up-to-date symbol for the Mother-goddess»'
She creates her ovm destiny and accepts it» Thus her
agony passes.:into affirmations
She has come amorous it is all she has come for
If there had been no hope she would not have come
And there would have been no crying in the city
(There xiould have been no city) 10
In this poem the language is harsh,,rather sensuous
and proletarians "She comes with the birth push", "She '
comes too cold afraid of clothes", "She comes dumb she
cannot manage words"* The punctuation is broken up and
the verses are laid out on the paper quite arbitrarily.
That is, their length varies according to the intensity
of feeling the author wants to expresso.
However, the woman is not always raised to the
level of an archetype» She is sometimes even rudely
brought dowii to earth. "The Secretary" (The Hawk, in
the Rain) is despised by the- poet. He admits that she
is a nice, virtuous girl, attached to the family, but
there is a sort of reserve in her that'^ he cannot stand.
If she wants to preserve her chastity, she should not
have come down to the world of men,'he seems to assert:
, . ■ 51
If I should touch her she would shriek and weeping
Crawl off to nurse the terrible wounds all,
Day like a starling under the bellies of bulls
She hurries among men, ducking, peeping.
Off in a whirl at the first move of a horn»
At dusk she scuttles dom the,gauntlet of lust
Like a clockxrork mouse® ■ Safe home at last
She.i mends socks with holes, shirts that are torn.
For father .andvlbEother,..and-a,.,.delicate.-supper cooks;
Goes to bed early, shuts out with the light
Her thirty years, and lies.with buttocks tight.
Hiding her lovely eyes until day break®. H
Certainly Ted Hughes displays misogyny in this poem«
He^jironi'caliy criticizes the Secretary who, with the
excuse-of devotion to her father and" brother, shuts up ■
her life at hoiH8g repressing her own natureo
Society has given her masculine ability; she is'
efficient, rational, methodical like a. man^. Yet for Ted...',;.
Hughes she is as contemptible as the Vegetarian, who is
too inefficient, too reluctant to be a^ man« Like the
rat and the': rat-catcher they seem to have changed roles,,
Fearful of the hare with the manners of a lady,
Of the sow-s loaded side and the boar's brovm fang,
Fearful of the bull's tongue snaring and rending,.
And of the sheep’s jaw moving without mercy,
Tripped on Eternity's stone threshold»
Staring into the emptiness.
Unable to move, he hears the hounds of the grass®I-2
It appears to me that Ted Hughes is suggesting
that modern society is devitalizing hoth. man and woman^
and in this way woman is losing her femininity and man
his masculinityo.. Both are losing contact with their
natural energies®..
For Ted Hughes_, men worthy of admiration are those
lonely5 tough individuals of Lupercal. individuals such
a S'. Dick Stralghtup and the Retired Colonelo They have
never refused w battle and have profited out of all the '
N ’
good things life offers» They have survived everything
and most of their contemporaries:,». Age may have "stiffened”
13 themj but it has not killed any of their
masculine characteristics®- Like the animals of The Hawk
in the Rain they have remained strongj independent5 '
’free;^ and are quite: aware of their excellences
He sits in the bar-room seat he has been
Polishing with his backside sixty-odd years
Vfliere nobody else sitso- >/hite is his heady
But his cheek high5 hale as when he emptied
Every Saturday the twelve-pint tankard at a^ tilt.
Swallowed the whole serving of thirty eggs 5
And banged the big bass drum for Heptonstall -
With a hundred other great works, still talked ofo- l4
These supermen would surely match wonderfully
with the archetypal womenj goddess-figuresi®®o SomehoWjin
their roughnessj their masochism and in their
legendary aspectjthey resemble the poet's father„
Men should be predatory and women5 Hughes seems
to say5 should be either goddesses or witcheso As
witches they can do whatever they like, "proprietary" 15
as they are of their own destinies. Like . witches^^
women are so unpredictable, irreverent, inconstant and
sensuous that men are easily "devilled" 16 by them.
The-witch-women are symbolized by the snake, whose bite
can be fatal.- Yet they are so interesting, so tempting
that men will come back to them as Mark Antony came
back to Cleopatra..
No matter how violent, how disrespectful such
women must be, when their pride is at stake, they will
impose themselves as women with the right to live their
own lives, as the girl from the poem "The Conversion of
the Reverend Skinner"' did. It was she, the "sinner"
who violently put down the authoritarian Reverend with
S', slap on his cheek and prompt, crude answer to his
"Dare you reach so high,girl,from the gutter of
the street?"'
She slapped his cheek and turned his tongue right
"Your church has cursed me till I am black as i t t
The devil has my preference forever."'
She spoke. An upstart gentleman
Flashed his golden palm to her and she ran.
But he lay there stretched full length in the
He swore to live on dog-licks for ten years.
"My pride has been the rotten heart of the matter"•
His eyes dwelt with the quick ankles of whores..
To mortify pride he hailed each one;
"This is the ditch to pitch abortions in"» 17
■ 55
This poem of Ted Hughes’s brings to my mind another
one,written by W.B..Yeats, where the Irish poet
defends the independent, brutal and irreverently proud
attitude of a whore called Jane;
I met the Bishop on the road
And much said he and I.-
"Those breasts are flat and fallen now,
Those veins must soon be dry;
Live in a heavenly mansion,
Not in some foul sty",
"Fast and foul are near of kin,
And fair needs foul",I cried.
"My friends are gone, but that's a truth
Nor grave nor bed denied.
Learned in bodily lowliness / v
And in the heart's pride".
"A woman can be proud and stiff
VJhen in love intent 5
But Love has pitched his mansion in
The place of excrement;
For nothing can be sole or whole
That has not been rent". I8
"When in love intent" ^9 no considerations of
"foul" and "fair" are valid - apparently this is the
philosophy of both Yeats and Hughes, as ai strong
passion lifts woman above good and evil. This may be
the reason why in the short story "Suitor" (Wodwo)
nothing is said against the inconstancy of the young
girl of the "dull sooted green-house" 2 0 makes
fools of her suitors. Romantically they stand in front
of her house hoping to have a distant glimpse of their
beloved one. And she bewitches them all. It is the
timidity of her suitors that the poet ridicules, not
the girl’s daring.- Obviously, Ted Hughes’s favourite
heroine is not the innocent, pure Juliet our parents
used to admire; it is rather the unconventional Juliet
Fellini created..
Man needs the witch-woman who may kill him at
the end, although in the meantime she revitalizes him.
So he goes to her as a willing victim, as Ted Hughes
tells us in the poem "Theology":
No, the serpent did not
Seduce Eve to the apple..
All that’s simply
Corruption of the facts.
Adam ate the apple.
. ^ Eve ate Adam.
The serpent ate Eve.
This is the dark intestine,. 21
In the new theology contrived by Ted Hughes Eve
is identified with the "serpent" and Adam is the first
"machão"' victimizer*: Aware of Eve's power he made the
choice to fall into her nets.
Undoubtedly Ted Hughes's attitude to women goes
from one extreme pole to another. While he seems to
adore the supernatural woman-figures, either goddesses
or witches, he despises the individualized women, like
the old lady and the young girl from "Macaw and Little
Miss" and the "Secretary". This is how his misogyny
, ' . .
goes: he idolizes the archetype and rejects the particular..
Seemingly his ideal woman should be totally good or ;
totally evil.
Apparently Ted Hughes believes that only by not
sparing herself can a woman fully realize her nature. And
hers, Hughes: implies, is either a sadistic nature, like
the witch-women's, or masochistic.- If she is masochistic
she must suffer.. It is for the masochistic women that he
advocates the revival of the ancient Roman festival,
"Lupercalia", where a^ goat and a dog were sacrificed,
and thongs were cut from their skins to whip the barren
women.- With the thongs priests would run in two bands
round the city and whip women to cure them of sterility.
It is significant that Ted Hughes entitles one of his
books after this festival, Lupercal..
In the poem "Lupercalia" Ted Hughes says that the
barren woman has "The past killed in her, the future
plucked out" She is just another "living dead" 23,
As a result of this, the woman yearns for the arrival of
those "powerful" inflammable "racers" 25^ vho with
"fresh thongs of goat-skin in their hands"' ^6
"deliberate welts" ^7^ will lash her ruthlesslyr- and
brutally. Regardless of the pain they inflict on her,
she welcomes them as her body will be warmed by their
punishment and revitalized. In this poem Hughes makes
deliberate use of short, ugly words, such as: "churlish",
"scraps", "thefts", "bitch", "stripped", "stamp",
"thongs", "welps", "stink", "thudding" and of ‘ . ~i;.
a'lliterationr "Though ihat has gripped her stark"',
stare/ startle/ stink; blood/ blessed. The sound of
these words echoes like. the. ra'cers*'. violent whip
strokes on the sterile woman».
Nonetheless, at times, the woman resents the
brutality and insensibility of man, though the suffering
he causes her brings her life:
He gave her eyes and a mouth, in exchange for the
She wept blood, she cried pain.
The pain and the blood were life. But the man
laughed -
The song was worth it.
The woman felt cheated. 28
Here it is woman who is man’s willing victim,
and man is pictured as ai Bluebeardr sensuous, cruel,
insensitive.. He makes use of the woman for his own
purpose.. Satiated and tired of her, he throws her away
or pokes fun at her. Vulnerable,- the woman suffers from
man’s callousness.. Yet still she wants him, masochist
that she is..
Also it is through suffering that the woman
bestows' life on man, but this suffering is selffulfilment
for her. Yet by sheltering man in her womb
and by giving him birth, man becomes emotionally
dependent on the woman who is his mother.- She is
man’s first love, and this primal love is a difficult
feeling to get rid of. In "Revenge Fable"' Ted
Hughes describes the agony of a' brilliant man (I wonderwhether
he is not the poet himself) obsessed with
ridding himself from the love he nourishes for hismotherQuite
aware that this feeling can annihilate
b©thj m©th@r' and trltsi by all means to
escape from it- Yet escape seemsiimpossible, no
matter how clever he is:
There was a person
Could not get rid of his mother
As if he were her topmost twig.
So he pounded and hacked at her
With numbers and equations'and laws
IVhich he invented and called truth.
He investigated, incriminated
And penalized her, like Tolstoy,
Forbidding,screaming and condemning,
Going for her with a knife,
Obliterating her Vith disgusts
Bulldozers and detergents
Requisitions and central heating
Rifles and whisky amd bored sleep.
With all her babes:; in her arms,in ghostly weepings,
She died.
His head fell off like a' leaf.. ^9
This is a recurrent theme in Ted Hughes's poetry.
In ’’Crow and Mamma"' Crow takes a', rocket and climbs up to
the moon in an attempt to fly away from his mother..
Relieved, he manages to sleep peacefully Just to awake
in his mother*'s lap:
He jumped.into the rocket and its- trajectory
Drilled clean through her heart he kept on
And it was cosy in the rocket,he could not see much
But he peered out through the portholes at Creation
And saw the stars millions of miles away
And saw the future and the universe
Opening and opening
And kept on and slept and at last
Crashed on the moon awoke and crawled out
Under his mother's buttocks. 30
We can discern violence toward woman contained in
an ironic parenthesis?’ "Drilled clean through her heart"'.
I wonder whether this violence toward women
displayed by Ted Hughes could not be explained by the
"S curve theory"’ which cri ttcs like George Ford, H.M.
Daleski and R,. Pritchard applied to D.H., Lawrence.
That is, Hughes, like Lawrence, in his early life, must
have had a- strong attachment to his mother, a lady who
led a secluded life in the small villages of West
Yorkshire. Later on, he developed a reaction against
her and tended to favour his father, a crude, extroverted
man, who nourished his children with violent stories
of war. By the reading of his books I think we can also
assume that Ted Hughes is self-conscious about his
Oedipus complex. Furthermore, since he returns again
and again to this theme, it is quite possible that
his poems function as catharsis to relieve him
from the annoying weight of this guilt complex.
In an interview with the London Magazine Ted
Hughes complains that after the Puritan victory in the
Civil V/ar 5 England lacked the "figure of Mary" 31^ the
suff@rlng| passive^ dispossessed Mother, Since then
the image of woman has altered. Now Englishmen
confront a woman conscious not only of her duties, but
above all of her rights. In the poem "Her Husband"
(Wodwo) Hughes portrays an efficient, haughty housewife.
Married to a "macjiao"' who wants to impose upon
her, she ignores him. He will have his meals ready
when he gets home, but. not her soul:
Her Husband
Comes home dull with coal-dust deliberately
To grime the sink and foul towels and let her
Learn with scrubbing brush and scrubbing board
The stubborn character of money.
And let her learn through what kind of dust
He has earned his thirst and the right to quench it
And what sweat he has exchanged for his money
And the blood-weight of money. He*11 humble her
With new light on her obligations.
The fried, woody chips, kept warm two hours in the
oven 5
Are only part of her answer.
Hearing the rest, he slams them to the fire back
And is away round the house-end singing
"Come back to Sorrento" in a voice
Of resounding corrugated iron.
Her back has bunched into a hump as an insult.
they -will have their rights«
Their jurors are to be assembled
From the little crumbs of soot. Their brief
Goes straight up to heaven and nothing more is
heard of it. 32
The man cannot complain,. She performs her
obligations dutifully, though she gives no love;to the:
man she cooks for and he resents it.. Marriage is
presented as a-; v;ar. The husband is rude, crude and
unpleasant; and the wife is cold, insolent and proud..
To his “resounding corrugated iron" 33 voice she
responds with a "hump"’ 3i4-„ He speaks louder, but she
looks stronger in her mutism. Maybe it is their hard,
poor life that has made them such warriors. Though
the man and the woman's life is drawn along such
rough lines, there is no animosity to either of them.
The poet even proposes to be their "juror" 35 and
promises them justice.
This description of the cold war between a
husband and a wife suggests-. : a: . passage in Sons and
Lovers by another writer of the Northwestern part of
England, D.H., Lawrence. Ted Hughes's"wife" can be
compared to Lawrence's Mrs.- Morel and the"husband"' to
Mr. Morel:-
Sunday x^ras the same: bed till noon, the
Palmerston Arms till 2.30, dinner, and bed;
scarcely a word spoken. When Mrs. Morel went
upstairs, towards four o'clock, to put on her
Sunday dress, he was fast asleep. She would
have felt sorry for him, if he had once said,
"Wife, I’m sorry".. But no, he insisted to himself,
it was her fault. And so he broke himself.
So she merely left him alone. There was this
deadlock of passion between them, and she was
stronger. 36
It is the recognition of woman’s strength, of
her power over man that both Lawrence and Hughes cannot
bear.. Consciously they refuse to submit to the female
being. Consciously they refuse to depend on her. They
are the "machões" and they insist on having their
masculinity acknowledged." So there is a "war"' inside.
themselves as well.
Love between a man and a woman is also presented
as aiwar in "Parlour-Piece" (The Hawk In the Rain). It
is "fire" and "flood" disguised in cups of tea..
"Love struck" 38 the dove breeder "like a hawk into a
dovecote" 39, Since then he no longer won prizes "with
fantails or pouters" ^0., Firstly love brought him
suffering and later on callousness. In "Lovesong"
(Crow) the obsessive love of a man and a woman is
shown as a stubborn war:
His words were o'coupying armies
Her laughs were an assassin’s attempts
His looks were bullets daggers of revenge
Her glances were ghosts in the.corner with horriblesecrets
His whispers were whips and jackboots
Her kisses were lawyers^ steadily writing
His caresses were the last hooks of a castaway
Her love-tricks were the grinding of locks
It is interesting to notice the images: all of
them related to war, fights, battles»
Most of the time Ted Hughes presents only physical
love, though he says that "desire's a vicious separator"
Yet man looks for the woman, holds her tight and strangely
enough asks her to "show [him J no home"’^^. I
think this attitude could be explained in the light of
the man's realization of his inability to escape a
mother complex» Anyway it is a' contradictory attitude
which renders it difficult for man (and the poet himself)
to be long pleased by any woman, since man must
deny himself the very thing he wants«.
Summing up this chapter we can distinguish three
main conflicting attitudes of the poet toward women:
1. Worship for the unattainable woman, s3nnboli2ed by
the moono-
2o Respect, fear and a kind of gusto felt for'.„the. archetypal
witch-woman, who is dangerous for man, though
3» Scorn for the contemporary, quotidian woman who has
lost her feminine vitality through submission to a
mechanized (and man-created) society.
In this'chapter I will investigate violence in
its aspect as the- shock-effect of diction and metaphor,
since it is by taking language to "extremity" that Ted
Hughes manages to create his poetic wasteland,. By
making use of crude and Saxon words, "Eliotic"' and'
existential images;, loud, explosive: and, at times,
tuneless rhythm, Ted Hughes- narrows and, at the same
time', deepens his vision of the cosmos, leading us to
a blacker world, apparently, than even T,,S, Eliot could
Though Hughes favours "violent"' characters in
his first books (The Hawk in the Rain and Lupercal)^
; J
nowhere does his cosmos look so dark and pessimistic
as it does in his last "animal" books, mainly in
Crow».. There is light in them, there is even some
kind of joy and love. Their air is breathable and,
at times, even pleasant. Although there are some
people trying to ruin this world with their sterility,
their barren intellectuality and their wars, they have
not succeeded yet. And we may hope that they will
never do so.
However, when Crow appeared this hope seemed
groundless. At a first reading of the book, Crow’s
universe seems so fragmented, meaningless, dry and
mechanized that we wonders' "Will Hughes be able to
find a way out of this narrowj suffocating world he has
stuffed himself into?"
In his review of Crow for The Times Literary
Supplement Mr, Ian Hamilton complains that Ted Hughes
is so "eager"^ in "his pursuit of blood and thunder"'
that he neglects "poetic caution"
Reviewing Crow for The Black Rainbow Mr« David
Holbrook commented that Hughes created a hostile,
unintelligible and alien cosmos 5 in which man
is not at home, and which is but designed to
torment him with his nothingness. ^
. \
We may agree that Ted Hughes's world is narrow
and pessimistic, that his language is brutal and rugged,
Nonetheless^ I think that Mr. Hamilton and 14r, Holbrook
have been too partial in their criticism of Hughes,.
They have missed the positiveness of Hughes's use of
"violence". It appears to me that he consciously
goes against the traditional patterning of verse« thus
he does not miss "poetic caution"', he Just chooses to
follow a different direction. He wants his poetry
to be energetic, strong, shocking. Furthermore, it
is in his images and mainly in the myth of Crow that
we are going to find the solution for the problem of
the wasteland. And, it seeifts to me, there is , a
Of course, this line of image is no novelty,.
Contemporary poetry's use of the symbolism and
mythology of a barren and infertile land to character—
the modern experience derives largely from ToS«Sllot’s
long and obscure poem *'The Waste Land” (1922) »-
Children are not born, plants do not groWj flovrers
do not bloom, birds do not sing in Eliot's denatured and
secularized world. Man has gone blind or half blind.
He has lost his vigour® His living consists in merely
watching everything which is going on around him, Eliot
ironically displays this world to us, a dry, plain,
fragmented world. It is a world which is no longer
real, therefore its inhabitants have also become unreal»
Living in a v/orld which is being wasted away
and threatened with extinction, Tiresias (who stands
for everyman) asks questions, looks for salvation,
consults the cards and the horoscope, but no answers
are given him« He does not find anyone to talk to.
As a; consequence he also becomes dumb or incoherent.
The hopelessness, the aridity around him are so
great that they enter and paralyze him as well.
Exhausted, seeing no purpose in life or in ’
death, like Ted Hughes’s Crow, Tiresias contemplates
the death of the cosmos. He can do nothing since there
is nothing or no-one he cares for. Without expecting
anything he continues to populate this "Unreal City" ^
with a remote hope that sometime, somewhere, something
will turn up and then he will be able "to set hisj
land in order" Meanwhile everything is "falling
down, falling down, falling do\m"
To express the ideas of aimlessness, hopelessness,
emptiness, isolation, fragmentation- and' srfcerility,.
ToSo. Elioii'. makes: 'Oise of images, of "dull r-oots'% "broken ■
images'^, ’®'rock‘%, "'dust'^,. *^shadow'% ’^marble"’, ^synthetic
perftrnies''^ ’®fi*0'st’*-y '^desert'%. “bones‘% '^rains'^ and the ,
Liike mps:t. of the modern' 'trri'ters-, Ted Hughes was
infiuen'cedi by' Te.Se, BMot» We know he ’tras acquainted
T'Tith T:»S,^ Eliot;® s: work and with the auiihor himself“- In
her- letters: Sylvia Plath' points: up H±ie early encouragemencfe
Blio.ic gave: to'Huighes-r
Faber- § Faber, the British publishing' housey
has: jus:t: I'TTi'ttjem to accept, Ted”s: poetrjr for
publicatiGni ini Englan'dio. Not only' thaty but Mr*.
Eliot, ("idio^ is oni their staff') read the booky
and^ the publisher writess '’Mr» Eliot has askedi
me to; tell. you. how muirh he personally eng’byed
the poems; and tO' pass on his congratulation's oni
oo-e.. L a st n ig h t a t Eliott®s "ifTas m agnificento The
E l io t s l i v e i n a surprisin gly^ drab' b ric k buildW
in g' oni the f i r s t : f l o o r — jBt a com fo rtab le,.
la v is h apartmento. H is Y o rksh ire t'/ifey V a le rie ,,
i s handsome,, blonde and rosy» He was marvellous:*
Piiit us. im m ediately a t ease® o.o.® T alk was
in tim ate gossi'p ab o u t S travin sk y,, Aud'en,, V ir g in ia
■ T/ro'O'l'f',, D Jiio Iawr-enicec. I x-jas fascinated«, F lo a te d
ini to d in n er5, s a t beti^reen E l i o t and Spender,,
raptuirously',, and g o t along; v e r y well®. Both o'f
them5, o f cour-sey, were in stru m en tal in. T ed 's
get-fciing^ h is Quig'geniieim and h is book printedo."^
000. Eliot has offered, to' read and discu'ss any
plays in\ verse Ted does^ which is highly kind
of' him'o.^
In this chapter I will examine several aspects of
Hughes’s wasteland5 such asi sterility, hopelessness5
exhaustion^ lack of communication, fragmentation, nothingness,
intellectualism, mechanization and war». As - the
influence of Eliot on Hughes'.'s wasteland is so
obvious, I will refer back to him quite often in the
development of this chapter^
Let Ji'S- start with the theme of ''sterility".
In Eliot’s "The V/aste Land" two women talk about
abortion, contraception and femininity«.- One of them is
reprimanded for her carelessness, for looking"so antique"
when she is only thirty-one.. The first' blames the pills
she takeso And then comes the question which could be
the author's as wellr
io "V/hy you get married for if you don’t want children?
Ted Hughes also worries about this problem as we
saw :in-the.,previous chapter. He cannot stand women who
run away from sex, repressing their innermost primitive
emotions and their femininity. At the same time he
glories in the attitude of whores, of inconstant girls
who make love promiscuously.
Ted Hughes is sarcastic towards women who live
independently from men, though they work with them and
are attactive to them, as his Secretary is. She does
not yield to man's physical desires. Because she
chooses to devote her life to her work, her home, her
father and brother, her chastity is ridiculed by the
poeto. By means of an ironical tone and the choice of
v/ords like '‘touch", “weeping", "crawi off", kl'wound",
"ducking" or "gauntlet", he seems to want to whip her
as the'Luperci vrhipped the barren women in the Roman
In "The Waste Land" Eliot also satirizes an independent
woman who is a typist. She is a different
sort, thougho While Ted Hughes's Secretary cooks a
"delicate supper" for her father and brother, T.S,
Eliot's typist ”lays out food in tins" for herself
and an "expected guest" who is looked down on by the
poet as a "young man carbuncular" ^ working for a :
small agency,. Without any feeling for him she accepts
■ his assaults^ andj indifferent to each other, ■ they .make-V ’ .
/ ,loveo Apparently their poor ,lmechd,nized life :\has/:
/ stupefied and brutalized both of them»- . ■ ^ ^
After all, which woman is more barren, Eliot's
typist or Hughes’s secretary? To me5 Eliot’s t3?pist is.
Some strength is left Hughes’s Secretary to refuse "the
thing" she is not prepared to take® Besides she
preserves some finesse? she herself carefully prepares
the food at home, while Eliot's: typist.gets,it ready-made
in tins, and just heats it» She is too "tired and
bored" to do anything or to refuse anything. That
is the reason why she accepts the "young man
carbuncular- '*S love-making.
However, both violate their natures; Hughes's
secretary, her animal nature and Eliot's typist, her
human nature.
In ToS, Eliot’s "The Waste Land" images of
fertility alternate with images of sterility, one coming
immediately after the other, as if they were fighting«
In this seeming fight we feel that the poet is searching
for a solutiony for some kind of order in the chaotic
imivers® h® finds himself in« He is looking for somefertile
land to farm or some fresh water to fish. In
his quest, in his fishing, he may eventually encounter
some answer5 some sympathy, some peace«-
Ted Hughes also seems to be looking for some.
order5 some meaning to life«. Since for him the poet
is a kind of "witch-doctor, a medicine man among
17 primitive peoples“ a Shaman, he searches for it
in the cult of flora and fauna., as it can be seen in
a poem where he deletes all signs of punctuation but:
the interrogation mark: "Wodwo"« In this restless,
1 Q
feverish search, "turning leaves over" and
■inspecting "the most secret interior" of a frog,
he apparently hopes to find some solution, some
tonic for the infertility which dominates this
universe* In "Viodwo" we are led to think that he is
moving in a positive direction for he finds roots and
20 water, and declares his intention "to go on looking".
However, v;hen Crow came out it astonished
all his readerso "Go(ing) on looking" took him
back, though, still deeper, into the land he seemed
to be escaping froms a blacker, more hopeless and yet
more barren wasteland... He found himself in the
violent world where Crow is, so to speak, the host
and presiding spirito-
According to the Bible, when the world was created,,
light was made» Nevertheless x^^hen Grow was hatched, darkness
vras made to give birth to an indestructible, tough
birdj a bird who could survive the darkness , the barreness;
and’the death of the world«.
Crow never tries to improve his conditions or
the conditions of the worldo- He even refuses to learn
the word "love'*'., Just existing is the only concern of
this egocentri 3 lonely bird. He watches everything and
nothing disturbs him?
Cars collide and erupt luggage and babies
In laughter
The steamer upends and goes under saluting like
a stuntman
In laughter
The nosediving aircraft concludes with a' boom
In laughter
People's arms and legs fly off and fly on again
In laughter
The haggard mask on the bed rediscovers its pang
In laughter, in laughter
The meteorite crashes
With extraordinary ill-luck on the pram
The ears and eyes are bundled up
Are folded up in the hair.
Wrapped in the carpet, the wallpaper, tied with
the lampflex
Only the teeth work on
And the heart, dancing on in its open cave
22 ■ ’ ■ Helpless on the strings of laughter
The images of collision, crash, boom,' pang, .illluck
and destruction make the resistance of Crow, look
devilish, brutalo As he does not hope for any vital
change, he responds with stoical laughter to the
violence of this worn-out world»-
Hopelessness and exhaustion are themes of Ted.
Hughes's wasteland^ too.. Constant references to '‘wind",
“stone” 5 "pebbles'% "straw" , "fossils" 5 "ashes" , "skull"',
"shadow"', "fumes" 5 "mummies"- and "melting" drive home
the idea that we are living in a dreary expiring
universe» In the poem "Out"' (Wodwo) the poet bids;
farewell to the poppy, the first flower to regrow in
the devasWleqfields of war»
Nothing grov/s in this world«. Nothing lasts
and what is worse nothing matters* Nothing can be
realized in a world which has become dry»- In
"Heptonstall;!* Hughes develops this ideas
Black village of gravestone».
The hill®s collapsed skull
Whose dreams die back
Ivhere they were borno.
Life tries 6.
Death tries o.
The stone tries®
Only the rain never tires oIt
appears to me that like T<.So Eliot, Ted Hughes
is suggesting that living in such a wasteland, in a
world which has been so exhausted, man has no longer the
capacity to create anything new«- Man no longer dares anythingo-
Impotent5 fearfulj hollow, he just accepts- what
is given him and as suchj he and his,world have become
colourless, meaningless, formlesss
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled v/ith straw® Alas I.
Our dried voices, when
We xmisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
- In our dry cellar
Shape xfithout form, shade xiithout colour, ,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion^ ^
Man's inertia, exhaustion, hopelessness, timorousness
have made the world decadent® Ted Hughes makes use
of the elements of nature to shox-r that English society
is a decaji'ing societyo Like the thistles, men grow, get
old, die and their sons start a new cycle again dully,
“fighting back over the same ground" The daring
Vikings seem to have lost their force, they have become
tired of fightingi the new territories have already
been conquered and as a- result of their inactivity men
have become barren« Without the violence of the
combat, man weakens physically, psychologically and
Everything is finished, everybody is tired out»-
Consequently conformity has become the prevalent feeling
among mensWhere
are you heading? Everything is already here»
Your hardest look cannot anchor out among these rocks,
your coming days cannot anchor among these torn
clouds that cannot anchor o.
26 Your destination waits- where you. left it»
Apparently everything one does is oust''driv(ing)
in a' circle'*
In ®®The Waste Land"’ T0.S0- Eliot uses the image- of . ,
the "wheel*’ to express the same idea, that we are “walk- '
28 . ing round in a ring” ». Thus, seemingly, neither poet^. t
■ > see:'a/way out for men®. ' -
Thus one of. the aspects; of !the wasteland, is . that v
.' it moves in a vicious circle«.- Wherever you start, .you
/■ go hack to the same point«. In this way whenever* an '.f ;
attempt to move is made, it only generates^ misunderstanding
and consequent despair«. In such a world words: seem
to have lost their function<>. They do not communicate
anything®. Lack of communication is thus another
characteristic of the xi"astelande.
Words are alluring since they came with "Aladdin's
. lamp"' to deceive man® '*A, lovely pack” they are,
"clear-eyed, reso-unding, well-trained” , valid for
their sounds aloneo Nonetheless man is at their mercy®.
The impact of words, Ted Hughes asserts, is "A Disaster":
There came nevrs of a word®
Crow saw it killing men. He ate well®
He saw it bulldozing
V/hole cities to rubble® Again he ate well.
He saw its excreta poisoning seas..
He became watchful..
He sax-; its breath burning whole lands
To dusty char oHe
flew clear-and peered..
The word oozed its way, all mouth, , . ' , ' v.
Earless, eyeless'o.
He saw it sucking the cities . ■ ^
Like the nipples of a sow
Dririking out all the people
Till there were none left.
All digested inside the word®
Most of the verbs in this poem are related to
sensory activitiess “see”, ’’eat”, "peer", "suck",
"drink", "digest". The nouns are likewise physical,
concretes "mouth", "cities", "nipples", "sow", "seas",
"lands", "char"o. Together they form images which are
very crude, like this ones "He saw it sucking the cities/
Like the nipples of a sow"., Ted Hughes makes purposive .
use of explosive words and images, vrhich create the
effect of a disaster. In this way words are proved to
do harm..
Only someone like Crow, hardened by their
effect, is insensitive to them. He hears their sounds,
but he does not care to grasp their meaning, if there
is any. He is indifferent to them. They do not
coi-mnunicate anything to him, so desensitized has he
Not even.tears or laughter can communicate.
They are automatic5, they do not express any feeling.
Sometimes man '^makes a noise suspiciously like laughter" 5^^
but laugh genuinely he cannot». He cannot even smile,
since the smile is just "illusion" as Hughes puts it
in ‘■‘Gog"j w'od.wo^ All man can do is weep» He weeps for'
everything he has lost.- He weeps because he lives in a
world he no longer recognizes«- He weeps for his lost
identity5 his lost individuality, his lost world.. He',
weeps because he is destitutes
Grubs grubs He stabbed he stabbed
Weeping he walked and stabbed
Thus came the eye's
the ear‘s
Weeping does not bring any relief, though. It
is just an emotional manifestation of someone who is
lost. To imply this idea the verses do not follow any
■ logical pattern, they are collocated on the paper
quite arbitrarily as if they \>rere looking for some
reason for the weeping, some reason to go on living in
such a. voracious: and . meaningless world»
But does the lack of communication derive
from man’s emptiness and insulation or is it the
other way around?
Let us examine part III of the poem "Stations",
Wodwo to answer this question:
You are a wild look - out of an egg
Laid by your absence..
In the great Emptiness you sit complacent,
Blackbird in wet snow,.
If you could make only one comparison -
Your condition is miserable, you would give up.
But you, from the start, surrender to total Emptiness:,
Then leave everything to it.
Absence, It is; your own
Weeps its respite through your accomplished musicy i^ ,'
Wraps it,s cloak dark about your feeding
From these lines we can conclude that Ted Hughes
finds man guilty for the emptiness and consequent silence
that reigns all over the world. Man has done nothing to
react against this emptiness. On the contrary, he has
surrendered to it. Too lazy to react, he chose the
easiest road, that is, to do nothing at all. In "The
Rescue" (Wodwo). Ted Hughes displays his anger at
man’s compromise more openly, comparing man to
mummies bandaged up. To convey the idea of emptiness
in the poem "Gog‘" (Wodwo) , he uses images of a
"bubble", "dust" and "swollen atoms";
The atoms of saints' brains are swollen with the
vast bubble of nothing.
Everywhere the dust is in power.
Sylvia Plath tells us Ted’s feelings about this
• I .
As Ted says, most people’s problems is lack of
ideas, while his is that he has so many ideas
and no really settled quiet place to write them.
It appears to me that T..S,. Eliot has the same
conception about this matter. In "The Waste Land" the
rich woman of "A Game of Chess"' feels nervous and
isolated because of the silence around her:-
■ "My nerves; are bad to-night.. Yes;, bad. Stay with
"Speak to me. Why do you never speak.. Speak,
"What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?
"I never know what you are thinking.. Think."
Her partner does not speak because he does not
have anything to say. Since man has lost interest in
other human beings and in the world, his mind has gone
As a result of this lack of communication, of
man’s insulation and alienation, there arise the
feelings of disconnection and fragmentation of the
Like a jellyfish, man is disconnected, disconnected
with himself and with the world he lives in.-
One person does not relate to another. Hands do not
meet. Shoes are soleless, tins are bottomless', coats'
are left aside and the face of man never receives any
human touch.. It is an absurd crazy world:
In the hallucination of the horror
He saw this shoe, with no sole, rain-sodden,
Lying on a moor*.
And there was this garbage can, bottom rusted away,
A playing place for the wind, in a waste of puddlea.
There was this coat, in the dark cupboard, in the
room, in the silent house..
There was this face, smoking its cigarette between
the dusk window and the fire’s embers..
Near the fa'ce, this hand, motionless*.
Near the hand, this cup.-
Compare the shock effect of Hughes's lines with
Eliot's violently disconnected worldr
I can connect
Nothing with nothing..
The broken fingernails of dirty handsv
My people humble who expect
In consequence of this fragmentation there comes
the devaluation of pnce-important things which eventually
come to be reduced to a brutal nothing.. Ted Hughes seems
to have come to the conclusion Macbeth arrived at when he
lost everything: power, wife, friends. Life turns into
nothing but an idiotic, noisy and furious tale without
any meaning at all, since nothing versus nothing is
So finally there was nothing.
It was put inside nothing..
Nothing was added to it
And to prove it didn't exist
Squashed flat as nothing with nothing. ^
Not even Intellectual activities can redeem man
from the meaninglessness of this world. Pure intellectualism
is regarded as a' barren activity by the poet.
Ted Hughes has EBpeatedO-ynirefused; to. pursue an; acadJeinic
life'. In one of her letters to her mother Sylvia
Plath wrote:
... What; you must understand is that Ted does
not want to be a university professor for a
career. He wants to write now and for the rest
of his life. And in marrying a writer, I
accept his life... Writing comes first with both
of us, and although Wilbur and other writers
find their plums in the academic world, Ted just
doesn't want to spend years getting necessary
degree qualifications' when he should be writing
hardest. And my faith in him and the way we
want to live J^travelling, meeting people,
having the leisure to enjoy natui^e and life,; :
writing understands, this. ..
In his intellectual poems Ted Hughes suggests'
that in their pursuit of knowledge, the intellectuals
shut up life in limits alienating themselves from
other men and from the true sources of life.
In "Famous Poet" (The Hawk in the Rain) Ted
Hughes displays the miserable life of a man who
succeeded in life. Through hard work he managed to
win prizes, money and the parent's approval. Yet success
did not bring him happiness: as well. Instead he feels
"wrecked and monstrous"
The intellectual of "Meeting" (The Hawk in the
Rain), in his attempt to be precise, has become so "slow,
cold and ferocious" that natural beings, like a goat,
run away from him. In this way Ted Hughes manifests his
opinion that he does not look like a man any more. He
is rather one of those sacred monsters, dead before their
"Nothing of profit" did the hermit of "The
Good Life" (Lunercal) get from a higher education. That
is, he has got plump and is well-dressed and comfortable,
but his naturalness and his spontaneity are gone:
Loud he prayed then; but late or early
Never a murmur came to his need
Save "I’d be delightedl" and "Yours sincerely",
And "Thank you very much indeedl"^"^
Like Tiresias he has become rather a spectator of life
than a participant in it. He is dead in life.-
Talking to The Guardian Ted Hughes criticizes
the intellectual sophistry of Cambridge which kills
natural, spontaneous self-expression in man:’
Cambridge is the ordeal for initiation into
English society and it’s a pity there’s not
another one. It’s a most destructive
experience and only tough poets like Peter
Redgrove ever survive ... In effect
university is a prison life in your last
three or four most formative years. It’s
a most deadly institution unless you're aiming to
be either a scholar or a gentleman.
And, certainly, Hughes hates both: scholar and
gentleman.. For him they represent a denial of life. In
Wodwo he uses images of "broken wings"',, "shadows",
"graves"', "fumes", "extinct eyeballs", "cages"', "masks"'
and "'spectres" to refer to such a'cademics. What he seems
to regret is that their devotion to work is so great that
they neglect themselves as men, as human beings'. They
become strangers to life:-
V ; Humped, at his huge b>rokemwing of, shadow,,
. H e regrows the world inside his skull, like the:
■ hq ■ ■ :: spectre of a flower.
I have the impression that for Ted Hughes this
blind devotion to abstract work is mere wastage as it
destroys the natural passions of man.. For instance, he
sees Einstein as a desolate man, fettered to his cvm
learning r
The tired mask of folds, the eyes in mourning.
The sadness of the monkeys in their cage -
Star peering at star through the walls
Of a cage full of nothing.
And no quails tumbling
From the cloud. And no manna
For angels..
Only the pillar of fire contracting its strength
into a star-mote.
Now the sargasso of a single sandgrain
Would come sweeter than the hrook from the rock
To a mouth
Blasted with star-vapour..
"MotherI Msthsrl
0 mother
Send me love"
But the flies
The flies rise in a cloud.
Einstein misses: what he really wants. This may
be the reason why he sinks into work: to compensate for
the thing which is denied him - love.-
T.S. Eliot also seems to say that immersion in
work will not bring man satisfaction, for he gets to
“know only a heap' of broken images" He does not get
to know himself, his inner needs, his inner desires.
The knowledge he acquires is thus fragmentary and unsatisfactory.
However, in his anti-intellectualism Hughes
goes further than Eliot. Apparently in him there is
the same struggle there is in Lawrence, of blood
consciousness versus mind consciousness and one cannot
yield to the latter exclusively without destroying
Perhaps Hughes’s violent anti-intellectualism
derives from the fact that he finds intellectuals
responsible for the arid mechanization of the modern
worldo In the poem "Fourth of July" (Lunercal) the poet
regrets that animals have been killed to make way for a
mechanized society, where empty men live isolated from
each others •;
Unapproachable islands,
From their heavens and their burning underworld
Wait dully at the traffic crossing,
Or lean over headlines, taking nothing in.
Again in his anti-mechanization attitude, Hughes
reminds us of Lawrence. In his angry rebellion we seem
to hear the Lawrencian appeal: "For God's sake, let us
be men/ Not monkeys minding machines"
, In the poem "The Casualty"' (The Hawk in the
Rain) people coldly watch an aircraft fall and burn
down, without showing any concern for the victim of.the
disaster® Despite having seen the accident with their
naked eyes they still "wait with interest for the
evening news"
Apparently men have become so brutalized by the
everyday terror of our civilization that they are iinable
to show sympathy or mercy. They seem to take av.sadistic
pleasure in sitting in front of their television sets
watching the horror- films reel off in front of their
eyes;. Going to a pub they prefer to "appreciate" yet
another film of devastation, \>7hich Hughes describes in
the poem "Public Bar TV" (Wodwo):
/On a flaked ridge of the desert ^
/ havff found foul water o. They say, nothing;
^ With the cactus and the petrified:, tree
Crouch numbed by a wind: howling all
Visible horizons equally empty..
The wind brings dust and' nothing
Of the wives, the children, the grandmothers
With the ancestral bones, who months ago
Left the last river,
Coming at the pace of oxen..
Ted Hughes seems to suggest that the effects- of
civilization are catastrophic.. In "Crow‘'s Vanity" (Crow)
Crow looks "in the evil mirror" at the works of
civilization:; prisons, wars,, skyscrapers;, overcrowded
cities, pollution, prostitution and he finds all this
In "Magical Dangers" (Crow) Ted Hughes pushes
this idea still further. 1-Ian only values physical and
material things, such as, a big house, a fast car, money,
sex.. Attractive and easily reachable, such prizes are
the "magical dangers" of this world. Things seemed
to have turned the other way round; devices intended to ,
serve man now are his masters.
These "magical dangers" are likex/ise identified
by T..S.. Eliot in his "The Waste Land", There the rich
lady is highly pleased with her "burnished throne"
"wrought with fruit«}vines" with her precious jewels
and her "strange sjmthetic perfumes" In the diction
used, the rich detail and by the subtle irony of his ’
description, T»So, Eliot reminds us of Pope's "The Rape
of the Lock"« Unfortunately Ted Hughes does not
possess his predesessors' subtle irony in his ridicule
of modern man or womano. He is the angry man controlled
by his passionate subject-matter».
In his obsession to be genuine, to be a man of
the land, to keep his own roots, Ted Hughes flatters
himself on the fact that he has been able to preserve
the West Yorkshire dialect, despite Cambridge?
You know you can hear the language under the
language when you speak« The minute you've
lost that feeling it has gone dead on you.
Well, I was lucky the West. Yorkshire dialect
is both eloquent and emphatic, there are no
parts of it formal or dehumanized.- It getsin
whatever I write and that in turn limits
what I 'í^^rite to form a single point of view.
Here again the "blood consciousnessness"
sentiment is powerfully exhibited by Ted Hughes. T,S,..
Eliot, on the other hand, is so mind-conscious that he
plays tricks with the language. He alternates a highly
cultural, pedantic language with a vulgar dialect
and mingles quotations by different authors in
different languages to expose a decadent society.
To finish this exploration on Ted Hughes's
wasteland, let us finally treat the theme of war.
Hughes appears to tell, us that, dissatisfied
with himself, man makes war and projects his inner
wasteland into the outer world. Thus violence is ,
primarily inside man, but civilized man has become , ; >
. alienated from the sources of his o\m violence. And ^
if is. this that makes him . sinister for Hughes,. , ; ' ' '
Examining Hughes * s war poems we might Abonder
’&«rhy he only xiTPites about World VJar. One, since as a boy .
he must have heard the sounds of bombs of World War Two
over England and must have seen some of their
devastation. I suppose that this paradox can be
explained if we take two facts into account:
1 « As a child he was nurtured by stories of World WarOne
which his father used to tell.. Though frightened
by its violence and death, he was fascinated by
them, as he says in the poem "Out" (Wodwo):
My father sa't in his chair recovering
From the four-year mastication by gunfire and mud,
Body buffeted wordless, estranged by long soaking
In the colours of mutilation.
• o o
He felt his limbs clearing
With every slight, gingerish movement. Vihile I,
small and four,
Lay on the carpet as his luckless double,
His memory's buried, immovable anchor.
Among jawbones and blovm-off boots, tree-stumps,
shell-cases and craters.
Under rain that goes on drumming its rods and
Its kingdom, which the sun has abandoned, and
where nobody
Can ever again move from shelter. 63
2o- In World War One 5 at least in the air vrar, the combatant
could initially maintain the sense of their separate
chivalry, while in World War T^/o the soldier was just
a number in a regiment.- There was no place for
chivalric, individual heroism. The hero of the second
v7orld war was the atomic bomb. As a highly individualistic
man, Ted Hughes sees nothing to celebrate in a
mass war.-
The repeated charge against Hughes is that of
"violence". And, certainly, the theme of war would be
a proper sphere within which to exercise this proclivity.
The question iss if he is so "violent" is Hughes proaggression
and pro-war as well?
Let us answer this question by parts.
For Hughes man should be an individual, free,
whole, with his own aspirations, his own dreams, hopes, ;■
frustrations and above all with his oum courage and his
own fear. In self-defense or for survival, the
individual naturally resorts to violence, but; he can V
also feel a natural aversion to violence..
In his war poems Hughes commemorates the ■ Viindividual
free of social inhibition, the Rousseauesque
natural man who comes up in the figures of those rugged
individualists like the Retired Colonel and Dick -
Straightup. Now they are old and solitary, but v.arestill
upright, brave and "full of legend and life"
They lived a full life, drank a lot, fought their
wars and survived them. Reactionaries they have neverbent
to anyone or to any circumstance. Cornered, they
would attack blindly and violently like any predator.
Because of their prompt instinctive reactions to life
they are admired by the young people and by the poet
himself who look at them as a' species in extinction.
In this way we could answer' affiraatively the first
part- of the question:- "Is: Hughes: pro-aggression?"
To answer the second part of the question
("Is Hughes- pro-vrar?) let us consider the poem "Six
Young Men" (The Hax^rk In the Rain)
Looking at the photograph of six young men
who went to the war, the poet sees them individually:
one with "an intimate smile" the other "chew^ing^a
66 67
grass", a third one "bashi*ul" and still another one
"ridiculous with cocky pride" They had been friends
and as friends they died in the war:
This one was shot in an attack and lay
Calling in the x\rire, then this one, his best friend,
Went out to bring him in and was shot too;
And this one5the very moment he was warned
From potting at tin-cans in no-man’s-land,
Fell back dead with his rifle-sights: shot away«
The rest,nobody knows what they came to.
But come to the worst they must have done,and
held it
Closer than their hope;all were killed.
There is a feeling of regret for their stupid,
meaningless deaths. In the last stanza Hughes laments
that the brutality of the v;ar has made so many innocent. :
victims to no end at all. And it has made not ' only , .v
literal victims, since modern men look dead as well. ' ^
They are the "living dead" of our contemporary wasteland?
That man’s not more alive whom you confront
And shake hy the handjsee hale^hear speak loud.
Than any of these six celluloid smiles are, v
Nor prehistoric or fabulous beast more dead;'
Eo thought io vivid as their smoking bloodr ,,.
To regard this photograph might well dement,
• Such contradictory permanent horrors here
Smile from the single exposure and shoulder out ■ 71
One's o\m body from its instant and heat..
Thus Ted Hughes-is both pro-aggression and antiwar,-
While he detests™ mechanized, de-individuaiized , .
modern war which is death-in-life, he yet admires: the
genuine, individualistic expression of aggression which
is basically a. life instinct.^
The poem "Bayonet Charge"’ (The Hawk in the Rain)
illustrates very well this ambivalence of Hughes, He
has no word of reprobation for the soldier who deserts
the war. On the contrary, he seems to take delight in
his flight. The soldier had the courage to flee that
deadly "thing" which frightened him, which could kill
him and in which he saw no purpose at all. His fear
gave him the courage to dare "king, honour, human ;
dignity, etcetera"
He was running
Like a man who has 'jumped up in the dark and runs
Listening betx^reen his footfalls for the reason
Of his still running, and his foot hung like
Statuary in mid-stride. Then the shot-slashed furrows
, 9 1
Threw up a yellow hare that rolled like a flame
And crawled in a threshing circle,its mouth wide
Open silent jits eyes standing out..
He plunged past with his bayonet toward the green
King, honour5 human dignity, etcetera
Dropped like luxuries in a yelling alarm;
To get out of that blue crackling air
73 His terror's touchy dynamite*.
Though the explicit analogy is that of a rabbit,
this soldier also reminds. , me of■ the jaguar«. VJhereas the
jaguar roars violently to dispell the crowd, this
soldier challenges everything in his way to be free of
war. His genuine fear made of him a hero, too, though
an upside-doxTO hero».' For Hughes his flight is a kind
of heroism»-
Although anti-war, it is my opinion that Ted
Hughes accepts ‘‘violence’*. That is, he favours the
individual ''violent" acts in which man releases his
energy in genuine, personal display of anger and in
this way he becomes one with himself* But he hates
the brutality, the mechanization, the anonymity of the
modern war. Through small acts of individual bravery
man forges his masculinity,. And for Hughes man should
be above all a “machão". In this way he favours the'
absolute, free, brutal, violent "machismo", which is
natural and instinctive in man as it is natural and
instinctive in the animals. ^
At the beginning of the chapter we raised the
question whether Ted Hughes's wasteland, evidently
blacker than Eliot's^did not nevertheless contain
some redeeming element. In the fallen world of Crow, is
there no catharsis, in tragic X'/isdom or transcendence to
be gleamed from the experience of soul-death?
In '‘Crow's Elephant Totem Song" (Crow) the
elephant is characterized bywords such as "loveliness" ,■
"beauty", "innocence", "kindliness" and "grace“« In a
book where the usual images: have been "blood", "black",
"furnace", "grubs", "gall, "death", shattering",
"stabbing", "smashing", "screaming", "writhing" and
the like, those positive images may seem even out of'
place-« Apparently Ted Hughes wants to mean that the -
elephant being entirely good’and beautiful was: not
complete«. He was one-sided«. After the conflict with
the mischievous hyenas he became whole since he gained
both wisdom, and evil, which made him fit . to
survive in this worlds
At the Resurrection
The Elephant got himself together with correction
Deadfall feet and toothproof body and bulldozing
And completely altered brains:
Behind aged eyes',that w-ere v;icked and wise«
So through the orange blaze and blue: shadow
Of the afterlife, effortles's: and immense,,
The Elephant goe'S' his own way,a walking sixth
And opposite and parallel
The sleepless Hyenas go
Along a'^ leafless skyline trembling like an
oven rooF
With a! whipped run
Their shame-flags: tucked'hard down
Over the gut sacks'
Crammed with putrefying laughter'
"Crov/'s Undersong” is still more positive. Ted
Hughes brings the figure of the Mother to his wasteland»-
In the shape of a proletarian5 vulgar:- woman she comes
"amorous"' and brings life and' love®- Like’Grow himself she
represents the principle of survival in a cruel, barren
world»- If she had not come ''there would have been no
77 city" o- Images of fertility prevail in this', poemr
"water”', "birth", "nipples", "petals", "nectar fruits"
and "rainbow"oIn
"Examination at the Womb-door"' (Crow) Crow is
put to the examination-desk and he passes his test
successfully» He recognizes that Death possesses his
"scrawny little feet", his "bristly scorched-looking
face", his "still-working lungs", his "utility coat
of muscles" , his "unspeakable guts", his "questionable
brains", his "messy blood", his "m.inimmn-efficiency
eyes", his "wicked little tongue" and his "occasional
78 wakefulness" ' »- Death is stronger than love and life,
but he, Crow, is stronger than Death» He was born to
contemplate death and it, on the other hand, gives him
life. In this xmy death is food to him». Out of this
deathly world Crov/, like the poet, creates life» It
may not be a beautiful, pleasant, easy,one, it is'
rather a difficult, strong, violent life, but anyi'/ay
Crov; survives it. Apparently it is this bird fed by
death and all the mishmash of this world v/ho will
resolve the problem of the wasteland».
Contrarily to Ted Hughes's Crow, To-S.- Eliot's'-^ ^ ,
characters are too faint-hearted to live in realityi
■ Consequently they remain in a state which is neither; :
life nor death, rather miconsciouso- Tiresias confesses ,
that, he "was neither/Living nor dead and he knew no-;X., ^
thing" s,. Crow3 on the contrary5 knows everything,"\^'^-'^^ ^
He has developed a rude plumage which has toughened
him and made him untouchable and invulnerable».
Grow became so tough with the everyday
experience that not even the sun could burn him up,
as Ted Hughes tells us in "Crow's Last Stand" (Crow).
It seems that by experiencing the negative truths of
this abnormal world he went beyond nihilism. His
energy, vitality and intelligence helped him to see
further than the other birds and other men. Crow is
the medium Hughes found to express what he had to say.
Thus we can conclude that Crow is the alter-ego .to the
poet who, though living in a jwik-yard transcends the
decay and destructiveness of mechanical society;
there v/as finally something
The sun could not burn,that it had rendered
Everything down to - a final obstacle
Against which it raged and charred'
And rages and chars
Limpid among the glaring furnace clinkersThe
pulsing blue tongues and the red and the yellow
The green lickings of the conflagration
Limpid and black -
fto Crow’s eye-pupiljin the tower of its scorched fort»
This image of "burning*" is a direct echo of.T,Sc, \
Eliot's "The Waste Land'*'®. Yet in Eliot even the '
penitential fire seems to have .been sterile to purge;
man’s lust or to free the world from its fragmentationo, ,
It appears that Hughes goes beyond Eliot since Crow’s
eye's which is the symbol for the poet’s intelligencej,
was salva^ged from the burning and purified. Now Crow,
the poet 5 can see.' himself and deepen his vision of the.
phenomenal and nomenal world to resolve' the problem
of the wasteland» If we. cannot say that Crow is the .
wasteland’s redeemer he is, at least, its survivor»-
Summing up this chapter we can distinguish
four main pointss
1 , In Ted Hughes’s wasteland the "violence" lies mainly
in the poet's proletarian, stark diction and in
crude, shocking imageryo- Yet the foundation for
such a-.disaenting vision is to be found in Eliot’s
poetry of the twenties»
2» The world has become brutal, more destructive than
the jungle» So a rugged aggressiveness is not only
necessary, but also a means to reclaim man's
potentialities o-
3» Though Ted Hughes’s pessimism is more extreme than
Eliot’s, it has a cathartic function» That is,
Hughes endorses violence as an assertion of the
natural, individual being in his totality, but
condemns the mechanized violence of .mass society
(war') which reduces man to a fragment» Thus one
might argue that his pessimism is healthy.
It is in the myth of Crow5 the alter-ego to the
poet, that the solution for the problems of the
wasteland lieso Ugly5 but intelligent and
creative he finds out resources: to make this
stifling, world inhabitable«.
a s
I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions:.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike..
I am not erutl, only truthful. ^
Although these lines were witten by Sylvia Plath,
they could as well be attributed' to Ted Hughes; they
suggest his line of self-defense against those critics
who charge him with violence for violence’ sakeWe
agree that there is "violence" in his poetry
His diction and metaphors are often so brutal that they.,
shock us.- But at the same time they are so forceful, so
passionate, so contemporary that they take us into ’a
world we, prefer to ignore.. This may be the reason why
they shock..
It is not the world of the poor with its
material and economic needs, but the modern overcivilized
world where man is oppressed by the very
progress he has aspired to create. And Ted Hughes
portrays man as if he were a button pressed to perform
functions which have no .meaning for him at all. Yet,
no matter how meaningless these duties are, man goes on.
They bring him money, material comfort, physical re'st,
but also uneasiness, dissatisfaction and frustration.
Everything is apparently so easy that mechanical ma'n
does not dare to rebel against those devices which •
make him less and less human.
In Hughes's poetry man and woman live "without
souls" and the earth is "shrunk to the size of a hand .
grenade" As Mr. David Lodge pointed out "indecorum^ ;
reigns, as it does in cartoons"
In his poetry Ted Hughes pictures a world which^^ ;^
is losing its qualities, an absurd, incomprehensible, i i ;
dark and frantic world. However,, by giving us a ' ^
negative vision of the universe by means of a "violent"
language he seems to want to awake other men to the
ugliness, the destructiveness mechanization has made*
Furthermore, it seems he wants us to share this
sinister vision with him not for a sadistic pleasure
in enjoying the world's nothingness, but rather as
an assertion that man may rise from the nihilism he
has walled himself into, and construct a more healthy
and fruitful world. It is with the myth of Crow that
he transmits this positive message.
VJhen The Hawk in the Rain and Lupercal
appeared, most critics approved, of the "violence"
contained in these books. In them Ted Hughes
focuses on the violence of the big, predatory animals
and the "violence" of the World War One. This literal
"violence" of the animals and of a distant war was
then appreciated, though a few critics complained of
some of the "violent" linguistic devices used by Hughes.
Yet v;hen Wodwo and mainly Crow were published,
Ted Hughes became the target of the attacks of more
traditional critics who condemned the use he made' of
a figurative violence. In Wodwo Hughes no longer used
predators as his heroes. He chose small animals of
prey to represent the victims of man and society. In
Crow he chose this very bird which is not beautiful,
"decent" or innocent to represent modern man. However,
maybe because Crow lacks those "virtues” which characterize.
the predators and make them admirable, he developed
other "virtues'" which made him fit to cope with the
negativeness of the modern world, "virtues" such as
toughness, intelligence, vitality, ruggedness.
In the seventeenth century when Swift, disgusted
with men, made the horses the heroes of his book, he
raised a lot of protest. And horses have dignityI But
the crow, a black, ugly bird, always associated with
death, has no dignity at all. So, we can understand
the disgust and shock Hughes’s anti-hero caused..
His previous hero, the hawk, was white, pure,
beautiful, straightforward, too positive for a negative
cosmos. Consequently he could not survive and was
"smashed"^ into the mud of the earth. Crow, dark,
unpleasant, ugly, but intelligent and tough is burned
in the refuse of the world and ascends to the level of
hero. It appears to me that Ted Hughes wants to imply
that it is not the purest and most beautiful who are
the fittest to survive, but the toughest and cleverest.
Thus we can conclude that despite the pessimism of his
world Hughes still believes in man, if man is intelligent
enough to outlast the dirt and the meaness of a barren
cosmos. :
Perhaps one of the facts that shocks most
readers is the contrast Hughes draws between the animal
violence which is direct, honest, without "indolent
procrastinations”^ and man's violence, which is indirect,
treacherous, simulated. The animal's violence is a
flexible and spontaneous instinct to survive, whereas;
man's violence is the monomaniacal wish to annihilate,
to smash, to kill».
Ted Hughes (despite his violence) tends to
favour those who struggle for life. In this way he
brings the figure of the Mother .to his poetry. He makes
her descend from the moon to the earth. Thence she is
not perfect, immaculate or ethereal. She is physical,
plain, touchable, suffering, though she is also eternal
in the sense the bull Moses is. She will live through
her descendents. Like a city she shelters men and
provides them with means to build their own lives as
long as they become independent from her. On the other '
hand, she can be fatal to men who are too tied to her.
She may look hard, callous, like the wife of the poem
”Her Husband” (Wodwo), but somehow she will overcome'
the limitations of life and will' impose her destiny as
woman, wife and mother..
It seems to me that Ted Hughes maintains that
life involves intrinsic conflict, another "violent”
characteristic in his poetry. Even love is presented
as two antagonistic forces: male and female, :.'body
and spirit, fire and air, joy and sadness, ecstasy and
hate. Man should be prepared to live these conflicts,
as only by fighting them through courageously can he
release himself from the artificiality that over-
developed civilization has made him a victim of. In the
fightj man comes back to his origins and becomes whole :
Ted Hughes himself is a man torn by conflicts : '
rejecting individualized women, he yet favours the ; /
moon-goddess; being himself an intellectual, he rejects '
intellectuals; being anti-war, he is nevertheless proaggressionj
being a writer, he complains of man's
incapacity to communicate.
Ted Hughes is also criticized for making the
world too narrow, dark and pessimistic. I agree that
his world is all that. Yet I should say that the
narrowness of his world is compensated by the depth
with which he explores it. He goes deep into the
world to find man small, baffled, thirsty for air,
water, light. By passing through such purgatorial
experiences, man gets ready to come back to nature,
to a saner world and to himself. That is why I
asserted Hughes’s pessimism is a healthy one in the
chapter on his wasteland.
I believe Ted Hughes’s art is violent in the
sense the modern world is, with all its kidnappings,
rapes, terrorism, wars, revolutions, insecurity. It
is because Hughes belongs too much to his age and
place that he writes this kind of poetry: energetic,
strong,, "violent", hyperbolical. In his world, how-
: • ’
ever, there is opportunity for man to go beyond ^
destructiveness, if he is clever enough to see beyond
the confines of mechanized civilization.
His poetry is the "truthful" expression of a man
faithful to the values he believes in. Hughes is a man
who never tries to minimize his emotions, feelings and
thoughts. He presents the world and man as he sees and
feels them. And Hughes is a' tough, complex man who
rejects any form of compromise. To me he is doing in
poetry what the vorticists: did in painting, that is,
presenting the inner world as a reflection of an unbalanced,
violent, outer world.
Vihere Ted Hughes is going from here is difficult
to say. He is still young, producing not only poetry,
but also prose and at present mostly interested in
theatre. He does not look quite reconciled with the
world, though, and only the future will tell whether
he will fall into the mannered: imitation of his own
pessimism or strike off from his wasteland in some
new directiono.
, 103
, N: 0 T E S
Chapter 1
1’.. J«-Pressf Rule and Energy. p,l82.
2». T«Hughes:<5 awk="" lur="" roosting="">ercal. p*. 26
3*, AoBold, Thom Gunn &.Ted'' Hughes« p- 6
[[o._____ , Thom Gunn &: Ted Hughes« p». 2
5. . 5 Thom Gunn & Ted Hughes« p*. 2
6». P^Xarkin, "Home is so Sad"’, The' \-/hitsun X'/eddings. p- 17
7o.____ , "Home is so Sad"', The VJhitsun Weddings', p«, 17
8.. A^E.Dyson, "Ted Hughes", The Critical 1?tj.arterlv:
9.. C.B.^Cox, "The Violence' of Ted Hughes”’, John London’s«.
10«.____ , "Thev Violence of Ted Hughes"', John London' s.,
1 1 «, J«M«Newton, "Mr«» Hughes^’s Poetry"', Delta..
12«.___ , "Mr«. Hughes’s Poetry"', Delta..
13*-___ 5 "Mr«. Hughes’s Poetry"', Delta.-
1/;«.___ ', "i'ir«. Hughes’s Poetry"', Delta..
1 5 «..____5 "Ted’ Hughes'*'s Metaphysical Poems-":, Cambridge
16«.___ , "Ted Hughes’s Metaphysical Poems"', Cambridge
17- J.Press, Rule and Energy, p,^ l8l
18.. . .'Rule and Energy, p«. l8l
19«' C.Jo-Rawson, "Ted Hughes:: A Reappraisal", Essays in
Criticism. ^ =
20. . , "Ted Hughes:- A Reax)praisal"',- Essays in
21.. C.Bedient, Eight Contemporary Poets^ P«- 97
22«. According to Schopenhauer only through experience:
can man get acquainted with himself.. Since he is
led to action by an irrational drive, only acting can
"he know what he is in this world*. Therefore a fight
gives birth to a BEING, that is why conflict deservesbeing
celebrated« Whether it produces a loser or a
■ winner it does not matter',- because above all it makes
one conscious of what he is». Violence brings selfknowledge,
awareness:, consciousness«. And Schopenhauerwas:
the only philosopher’Ted Hughes- "'ever read", as: he
himself reports' in an interview with The Guardian.
23« D.Porter, "The Contemporary Aesthetics of Ted Hughes:",
Boston University Journal.
2i4.„ K»Sagar, The Art of Ted Hughes« p« 2
25.^. ___ , The Art of Ted Hughes» p«
26.- . , The Art of Ted Hughes, p. 2
27«■____5 The Art of Ted Hughes ^ p«. iZj.
28. A, Alvarez, The New Poetrv^ p. 28
29®’___ , The New Poetry« p«. 30
30.-___ , The New- P o e t r y p«, 31
31*-___ , The New Poetry, p*. 28
32«, ___ , The New'Poetry, p*. 32
33». T,Hughes, an interview with the London Magazine'« 1971.
3 h o .___ _, an interview with the London Magaziney 1971«
Chanter 2
1«, T «Hughes, "The Rock", Worlds. p.. 122
2*. .____ , "Heptonstall"', Wodwo, p» l65
3«. ____ , “The Rock", Worlds-., p*. 122
i^«._____ "The Rock"',- Worldsy p. 124
5- ToHughes^, "The Rock", Worlds', p». 12lx
6»-_____5 "The Rock”-, Worlds-, p, 126
'7 «._____, "The Rock"... Worlds, p., 126
8o'._____, Poetry in the Making« p® 16
, 9»- _____ } Poetry in the Making, p». 16
10«., So.Plath, Letters Homeo April 17, 1956
11». T,Hughes 5 an interview with The Guardian. .1965
12». ____ 5 an interview vrith The Guardian.. 1965
13o. AoXibhy, "God's Lioness and the Priest of Sycorax",
Contemporary Literature
lli». So-Plath, "Daddy”, The New Poetry, p.- 65
15- Ko.Sagar, The Art of Ted Hughes-, p.. 10
' l6e. ScPlath,. "Daddy", The- New Poetry, p». 66.
1 7 o _____ , "Daddy", The New- Poetry, p», 66 - ......'
-. 18«. . "Daddy". The New Poetry^ p. 66 \
:':v l9<.: ___ j "Daddy", The New Poetry. ■ p. 6ji , >
20». DoPorter/^Beasts/ Shamans/ Baskins- The Contemporary.,, i r
Aesthetics of Ted. Hughes"', Boston University-■
Chapter 3
1 , To-Hughes, "The Jaguar", The Hawk In the Rain, p.. 12
2. . 5"Macaw' and’ Little Miss" The Hawk In the Rain^ p. 13
3 v_____, "The Havrk in the Rain", The Hawk in the RainyP,. 11
i;. ____ , "The Hawk in the Rain^ The Hawk in the Rain^ p.- 11
6».____ 5 "The Hawk in the Rain", The Hawk in the Rain, p« 11
7» ____ s'"’The Hawk in the Rain", The Hax^k in the Rain, p.- 11 ■
8. . , "Hawk Roosting", Lupercal. p.. 26'
9«'____ 3 "Hawk Roosting", Lupercal. p. 26
I0<,5^oHugheg;j,"Ha'wk Roosting", Lupercal« p» 26
11.. -- 9 "Hawk Roosting"„ Lupercal. p. 26
12, 5 "The Jaguar"'« The Hawk in the Rain. n. IP
13«- — . ? "The Jaguar"'« The Hawk in the Rain, n- 1>
lU«' s "Second Glance at sr Jaguar"« Wodwo« p. 2S
15,- -- s "Second Glance at a Jaguar"« Wodwo. p. 2^
16.. -- ? an interview with the London 107T
17 o -- 9 "Tlirushes"« Lupercal. p.-S2:
18,. -- 9 "Of Cats"^, Lupercal. p,. 32
19. ? "Of Cats"', Luperca.1,, p. 32
20. -- ? "The Bull Moses"'« Lupercal. p., 37
21, -- 9 "Cat and Mouse". Lupercal. n. 3Q
22.. --? "Pike"', Lupercal. p, 56
23 0. — . 9 "Pike",, Lupercal. p.- 57
2U- - 9 "Pike"« Lupercal, p,^6
25. - 9 "An Otter"'« Lupercal« p. /t6
26,. - 9 "An Otter"« Lupercal, p. /|6
27, - 9 "An Otter"'« Lupercal. p. /t7
28, - ? "View of a Pig”« Lupercal. r>^ /iO
29,. - 9 "Lupercalia", Lupercal. p.. 6l
30,. : "View of a Pig"« Lupercal.- p.. 7i0 .:
31, — . 9 "View• of a Pig". Lupercal. p. /iT ' ' '
32:.. ~ ■ 9 "View of a. Pig", Lupercalj p». /iT '
"View of a' Pig"'« Lupercal.
3At,- -- 9 "View of a Pig"«, Lupercaly p. /lO
35.- -- 9 "The Horses",. The Hawk in the Rain. -n.
36. — : 9 "A Dream of Horses"« Lupercal^ p. 21
37. -- 9 "A Dream of Horses"« Lupercal. p- 21
38, -- 9 "The Rain Horse"« Wodwo. p. /i6
3 9 - T ^ H u g h e s , " T h e R a i n H o r s e " , W o d w o „ p , ^ 6 ,1 '
. . 108
6 7
UOo. -- 9 "The Rain Horse". Viod'STO. p. 46
k i^ -- 9 "The Rain Horse", V/odwoy p» 46
42,. -- 9 "The Rain Horse'% Wodwo., p» 50
1|3<. ■ _ S "The Rain Horse", Wodwo, p. 49
-- s "The Rain Horse", Wodwo„ p„ 53
45» -- 9 "The Rain Horse" „ Wodwo, p„...53
46 o- — 5 "The Rain Horse"« Wodi.v’^o.i -n. 53'
47.. — — 9 "The Rain Horse",, Wodwo^ p.. 55
48 0. -- 3 "Ghost Crabs;"; Wodwo» p., PI ^7?-
49«» -- 9 "Ghost Crabs/', Vfodwo. p.. ??
50.. --5 "'Ghost Crabsf', Wodwo. p^. Pi
51«- --s "Skylarks"^, Wodwo„ p„. 168
52. --5 "Skylarks", Wodwo. -n. T70
53«. 9 "Gnat-Psalm"', Wodwo., p„. 170
54o- "Gnat-’Psal Tn" 0 Wodvro n Tfto
55.* ------- 9 "Sunday"', V/odwo, 62,6^
56,. ---- 9 Sunday"’. Wodwo ^ p„.. 66,67
57.. --S an interview-with The ListenfiT*,
580. — - 3 "T-V70 Legends?.", CroWj p, 1 3
59 V - 9 "Lineage"',. Crow, p, i/|
60 „ - 9 " T h e D o o r " , C r o w , p<. 78
6 1 «.____ 3 ”Crow and the Birds”, Grow» p»- 37
6 2».____ , "Crow’s Account of the Battle*’, Crow^ p» Z7
63«.____ 5 "Crow’s Fall", Crow^ p®. 36
61|o,____ 5 "Crow Blacker than ever"'. Crow» p,. 69
65.. , "The Black Beast", Crow, p,. 28
___ , "Crow’'s Nerve Fails", Crow, p. [f/
___ , " Crow on the Beach", Crow^ p» I4.0
68e. T,Hughes5 "Crov/ego", Crow« p« 6l
69»' ___ 3 "Crovr’s Playmates”, Crow,' p» 60
70. . , ”Crow's Playmates'«”' Crow., p« 60
Chapter h
lo- Se-Plath, ”Man in Black” , The Colossus» p, 52,53
2, ,"Pull Fathom Five”, The Colossus. p„ UQ
3» ____ } ”’Full Fathom Five”', The Colossus, p.- Z|.8
ko . , ”Full Fathom Five-”, The Colossus» p. i4.8 .
5»'____ s ”The Colossus”', The Colossus,, p.. 20
6.^_____5 Letters- Home., April 19, 1956
7 c Letters: Home, April 175 1956
8«, ToHughes, ”3ong”, O-he Hawk In the'Rain„ p». 19
9o* ___ 5 "Mountains”, Wodwo, po- 172
lOo-____ 5 “Crowd's Under song ”’5 Crow;, p*. 56
llo-.___ , "Secretary”', The Hawk in the Rain, p* 21
12c.____, ”A Vegetarian", VJodwo. p«. 30
13e-____5 “Dick Straightup”', Lupercals P<»- 17
li|«'___ 3 "Dick Stralghtup”', Lupercal. p«- 17
15o- ___ 3 "Witches” 5 Luper carl ^ p<> i}.8
16«.____5 "Witches"', Lupercal^. p« i|8
1 7 ® . , "The Conversion of the Reverend Skinner"', The
Hawk in the Rain« p.. 32'
18.. Wo-BoJeats::, "Crazy Jane Talks to the Bishop”', Selected
Pc8trj,p». 161
19®- __, "Crazy Jane Talks to the Bishop", Selected Poetry,
Po- 161
20.. TcHughes, "Suitor”-, W o d w o p, 94
^i-T.Hughes, ''Theology'',, Wodwo,. po. 1^9
22, "Lupercalia"'. Lupercal. p, 6l
■23,.____5 "Crow's Nerve Fa±ls*% Crow, p,. liT
Pi}..____5 •‘Lupercalia”'5 'Lupercalo p,. 62
25®.____5 "Luperealia''’, Lupercal „ p,. 63
260.____5 "Lupercalia'",. Luperca:!, 62.
2 7 ,. 5 ”Lupercalla"y Lupercalc p, 62
2 8 , "T\io Eskimo Songs" - l,."Fleeing from Eternity"',
Crow, p,. 92j93
2 9 , 5 "Revenge Fable"', Crow» p,. 70
300.___ ,5 ”Crow, and Mama" 5 Grovr^ p» 17 '
3 1 o,____3 an interview with the London Magazine^ 1971-
3 2 ,-____5 "Her Husband" 5 Wodwo« p, 19
33v ___ .} "Her Husband" j Wodwo 5 p, 19
34■„____j ”Her Husband"', Wodwo« p®. 19
35 « ___ 5 "Her Husband" 5, Wodwo« p® 19 '
3 6 ». DoH,iawrence"5 Sons and Lovers-« p, 55?56
37„. T,HugheSs "Parlour-.Piece"', The Hawk in the Rain« p.. 20
380.____, "The Dove- Breeder", The Hawk in the Raln^ p,- 23
39®.____, "The Dove Breeder"', The Hawk in the Rain» p.. 23
lf.0, ____, "The Dove Breeder"', The Hawk in the Rain, p, 23
41'®' "Lovesong"', Crow« p. 88
' k2\. "Incompatibilities", The Havrk in the Rain^ p, 26.
4 3 , ___ ., "Billet-Doux", The Hawk in the Rain, p,. 24
Chapter S
1 «.I»Hamilton, "A Mouthful of Blood", The Times Literary
2c. D®.Holbrook, "Ted Hughes:® s Crow' and the Longing for
Non-Being", The Black Rainbow
3o. T^SoEliot/‘The Waste Land'% Selected Poems» p..' 59
Uo. ____ _ 5 "The vj'aste Land', Selected Poemso p.- 67
5.. 5 "The Waste Land'*^5 Selected Poems., p. 67
60. Se. Plath, Letters Home., p. 358, 359
7o ' 5 Letters- Home^ May 3^ I960
8 «' ______ j Letters Home ^ July 9? 19^0
9oT.S».Eliot5 ’’The W'aste’Land" 5 Selected Poems» po- %
lOo-_____ ./'-The Waste Land". Selected Poemsy p» 57
lie T»Hughes5.. "Secretary** ;, The Hawk In the Rain». Z1
12c. To.S.oElibt5'‘The Waste Land" 5 Selected Poems> p«.. 59
13®-____ 5. "The Waste- Land", Selected Poems-^ p. 60
lZ,u- ____ s ”The Waste Land” 5 Selected Poems^ p® 60
1 5 ®'____ 5 "The Xiaste Land"^ Selected Poems„ p. 60
1 6 ®.____ 5 "The Waste Land'% Selected Poems^ p® 60
1 7 ®. T.Hughes, an interview with the London Magazine^ 1971-
1 8 ®.____5 "WodwoWodwo, p®- I83
1 9 ®‘____5 "Wodwo" 3, Wodwo, p®. 183
20® ____3 "V/odxTO", Wodwo „ p® I83
21®. __"Wodwo", V/odwo. p® I83
22®.____5 "-In Laughter"', Grow, p®. 48
23« . "Heptonstall" 5 Wodwo, p® 165
2J4.0. TcS®,Eliot,"The íIollox^^ Men", Selected Poems, p® 77
25®. T».Hughes5 "Thistles", Wodwo> p. 17
26® ____5 "You Drive in a Circle", Wodwo, p® 173 '
270- "You Drive in & Circle", Wodwo, p®, 173'
2 8 ® T®5®,Eliot, "The Waste .Land"', Selected Poems, p. 52
2 9 ® T»Hughes, "The Battle of Osfrontalis", Crow, p, 3/4.
3 0 ® ____ , "Crow Goes Hunting", Crow, p®. 5i|
31 e-____ 3 "Crow Goes Hunting", Crow, p®. 54
32. T,Hughes, "A Disaster", Crovr. p.. 33 '
33«'___ , "Crow's Battle Fury, Crow^ p. 6?
3 k - ____ , "Gog"', Wodwo, p. 153 -
35 - ____ , "Crow Tyrannosaurus", Crow^ p.. 25
36. - , "Stations"', Wodwo. p.. 38,39
37. - 5 "Gog", Wodwo. p. 1 5 1
3 8 . S.Plath, Letters Home. August 27, I96O
3 9 . T,.S.Eliot, "The Waste Land", Selected Poems, p. 55
4 0 . T.Hughes, "Crow Alights"', Crow, p, 2 1
4 1 . T.-S»Eliot, "The V/aste Land", Selected Poems, p. 62
kZ, T.Hughes, "Conjuring in Heaven"’, Crow^ p. 53
43« S.Plath, Letters Homey p. 332
kk» T.Hughes, "Famous Poet", The Hawk in the Raln^ p.. I8
4 5 . , "Meeting", The Hawk in the Rain, p. 39
4 6 . , "The Good Life", Lupercal. p. 36
1|7« ____ , "The Good Life", Lupercal^ p. 36
48. ____ , an interview with The Guardian. I965
49« ____ , "Wings", X'fodwo. p.. 1 7 4
5 0. , "Wings", Wodwo. p. 1 7 5 ,1 7 6
5 1. T.S.Eliot, "The Waste Land", Selected Poems^ p. 51
5 2 . T.Hughes, "Fourth of July", Lupercal^ p. 20
5 3. D.H.Xawrence, "Let Us Be Men".' Select^ed' Poems
5 4. T.Hughes, "The Casualty, The Hawk in the Raln^ p. 49
5 5 . , "Public Bar TV", Wodwo. p. 27 •
5 6. __ , "Crow's Vanity", Crow, p.. 44
57* ____ , "Crow's Vanity", Crow^ p. 44
5 8. ___ . , "Magical Dangers", Crow, p.. 51 i
59» S.Plath, -Letters Home, p. 36O, 3 6I
Note how Sylvia tells her mother how Ted mocks her,for
being an excellent typist and a poor handwriter: .
"I have honestly never undergone such physical
torture as writing furiously from 6 to 7 hours
a day (for the 'last two days) x^rith my unpracticed
pen-hand. Every night I come home
and lie in a hot tub, massaging it back to
action. Ted says I'm a victim of evolution
and have adapted to the higher stage of
typing and am at a disadvantage when forced
to compete on a lower stage of handwritingl"'
60.T.S.Eliot, "The Waste Land", Selected Poems^ p.54
61. , "The Waste Land'% Selected Poems, p. 54
62v T.Hughes, an. interview with The Guardian, I965
6 5 . - , "Out", Wodwo. p.. 155
6 4. ____ j "Dick Straightup"', Lutercal. p.. I8
65« ____ , "Six Young Men"', The Hawk in the Rain^ p.- 54
66. , "Six Young Men"', The Hawk in the Raln^ p» 54
67. - , "Six Young Men"', Th^Haw^jLQ_i;M_RaiQ_, p.’ 54
68 . , "Six Young Men", The Hawk in the Rain, p.. 54
69.. . , "Six Young Men"', The Hawk in the Rain^ p* 54
7 0 . . , "Crow’s Nerve Fails", Crow, p.. 47
7 1 . , "Six Young Men", The Hawk in the Raln^ p. 55
7 2 . ^____ ,"Bayonet Charge" , Xhe„Hawl£_la,,.the. J a to, p-. 51
7 3 -____"Bayonet Charge", The Hawk in the Rain, p.. 51
74» S.Plath, Letters Home^ p. 322,323'
In this letter Sylvia wrote about the shock that Britain's
war on Egypt caused to her and Ted. From then on she
started to :regard Britain as a dead, amoral, sterile
wasteland from where she wanted to free her husband:
i ' 1 .
"Well, between my private crisis and the huge
crisis aroused by Britain’s incredible and
insane bombing of Egypt, the universe is in
a state of chaos I You have no idea what a shock
this bombing caused us |she and Ted here.
... Even Budapest has been thrust to the back
page by this; the Russians are leaving. What a
worldl I remember that Persian diplomat who
intervievred me about the job teaching in Africa
saying that the western powers were like children
in their ignorance about the immense force
and manpower on tap in Arabia and Africa.. The ,
editorial in the Manchester Guardian wassuperb:
this attack is a disaster from every
angle - moral, military, political. Britain is:
dead; the literary and critical sterility and
amorality which I long to take Ted away from
is permeating everything.."
75.. T.Hughes,"Crow’s Elephant Totem Song", Crow, p. 58
76. , "Crowd’s Undersong"', Crow, p.5^
7 7 . 5 "Crow’s Undersong", Crow, p. 56
78 . 5 "Examination at the Womb-door", Crow;, p.. 15
79.. T..S.Eliot, "The Waste Land", Selected Poems, p. 52:
80.. T.Hughes, "Crow’s Last Stand'“, Crgw, p.- 31
1. S.Plath, "Mirror", Crossing the V/ater. p.. 34
2.. T.Hughes, "A Childish Prank", Crow» p. 19
3. , "Truth Kills Everybody", Crow, p.. 83
4. D..Lodge, "Crow and the Cartoons"', The Critical 'Oira-r-te-rJyr
5.. T.Hughes, "The Hawk in the Rain, The Hawk in the-Rain^p.11
6. . . , "Thrushes", Lupercal^ p. 52
Vforks by Ted Hughes (chrnonologicallly or-deredO
The Hawk ±n- the Rain» Londons Faber Paperback,. I96-8
Lurpercal'.» Londbnr Faber Paperback y 1970
WodX'TO'» Londons Faber* Paperback^, 1971-
CroWo London: Faber- Paperback,, 1972
Ted Hugheses; Prose
Poetry in: the Making» Londons- Fab:er Paperback,, 19'67
Interyjiews with Ted Hughes
"Desk Poet:"5. an interview with Jbhrr. Forder,- The Guardian^
2 3 March 196 5
'*Ted Hughes'^s Cro’t-?^*, The Listener. 30 Juily^ 1970
**^'edl Hughes and CroTfj^*‘y, an-i iintrerview ■tdJiai Egbert Faas,.
LoTtd'OTTi Maga:zine y, tFanua^ry 19711-
”’The Eack."',- Worlds.. Penguiira^ 19^Z;
Criticism (chronologically' ordJered')
Dy:sonj "Ted! Hughes"-, Crltl'cal Quarterliy^, I,, iii,, 1959'
Ifewton'^, jr»M» ”Mr» HiE^es:*'s: Poeti?^*,. DelitaWinter 19611
Coxj,- C3.- "^The Violence of Ted Hughes'^ ,- JTohn: O^Londbn^*'s
Weekly^, 113 J u ly ' I96I.
Priess:,. jr.. Rule and' Bnergvi. Gr^aat. Bteitain,, 1963c. Contains
a chapter- *■ Metaphysics and Mythologies."
Ra^rsoni,, C.,JTo- ‘''Ted Hughesr A Reappraisal."’,, Bs:savs: in\
Criticism.,. Volume XV,, July 19>S'5
1 1 6
N^ewtom,, “Teci Hugheses; Metaphysical. Poems", Cambridge
Quart^erlv".. Wintery 1966/6 7^
Hamilton!,, I. "A Mouthful, of Blood”, The Times- Literary--
SuTDPlement» 8' January 197'1
Lodge y D.- and' the Cartoons'*,. ^mg^Crj^tlc^ Quartgrly>,
Spring,, 1971
Bedientj, C, Eight Contemporary^ Poets:» Londonr Oxford'
University- Press:,, 1974«>- Contains; a chapter
"T^d Hughes,;" .
Libby', A*. ''God'”s'; Lioness- and the Priest of' Sycoraxr Plath
and- Hughes"',, Co-ntemporar'y Literature^ Suiomer,,
Porter',, D. "Beasts/ Shamans/ Baskin'i The Contemporary
Aesthetics or Ted' Hughes;"-,. Bbs;ton' University'
Jiburnal.. ¥inter ^ 1975
Holbrook:,. D» The Black Rainbow- Londom: Abbs,, Heinemann::,,
197% Contaite a chapter "Ted Hii^es*'s; Crow
and' the Longing-for NbnwBeing'*,
S'agar,. K*, The~- Art' of ' Ted Hughes;». Cambridge? Cambridge
University- Pres;s,. 197'5
Bold,, A». Thom' Gimni § Ted HuHhes;> Edinburghr Oliver §
BoydV 1 9 7 6.
other- Books Used
Alvarez,. A- The N.'ew Poetry... Gr-eat Britain: Pengulini Books, 19'62
Eliot,, T*-S. Selected Poems» Londbrai Faber and Faber
Larkim,, P,. The Wiriitsuni. Weddl^ngs«. Londomr Faber Paperback,li97'5
Lai/rrence,, DJI'o Sons; andi Lovers» Great. Britain:: Pengudini Bbaks,,,
Plathy S- The Colos>sus' § Other Poems». Few "Sark
Baoksj, 1968 ■ / ■ v
. Crossing the Water» York: Harper ;§ Row
.■...■Publishers;,, Ine».,,'.i971.:
Plath, S« Letters Hoine. Selected and edited with commentary
by Aurelia Schober Plath.- New York: Harper § Row
. Publishers, Inc., 1976
Yeats, W.B. Selected Poetry- London: Pan Books Ltd'.., 1974

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