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Two Poems

Ted Hughes, 21 February 1980

... Unfinished Mystery Enter Hamlet, stabbed, no longer baffled, Stepping across his mother, drowned in a pearl, Carrying lifeless Ophelia. Now enter Stabbed Othello, enlightened at last, From his cistern of toad-genderings, bearing Suffocated Desdemona. Now enter Headless Macbeth, regicide killed in him, Stepping from the cauldron of sisters Bearing his cold Queen ...

Remembering Teheran

Ted Hughes, 19 August 1982

... How it hung In the electrical loom Of the Himalayas – I remember The spectre of the rose. All day the flag on the military camp flowed South. In The Shah’s Motel The Manageress – a thunder head Atossa – wept on her bed Or struck awe. Tragic Persian Quaked her bosoms – precarious balloons of water. But still nothing worked. Everything hung on a prayer, in the hanging dust ...

The Gulkana

Ted Hughes, 19 May 1983

... The Gulkana – where it meets the Copper – Swung out of the black spruce forest, on a pebbly bend, And disappeared into it, Hazed with forest fires that had burned for weeks. Strange word: ‘Gulkana’. What did it mean? A pre-Columbian glyph. A pale, blue line, scrawled with a childish hand Through our crumpled map. It was water More than water, rocks that were more than rocks ...

Two Poems

Ted Hughes, 15 November 1984

... Walt Night after night he’d sat there, Eighty-four, still telling the tale. With his huge thirst for anaesthetics. ‘Time I were dead,’ I’d heard. ‘I want to die.’ That’s altered.               We lean to a cliff rail Founded in tremblings. Beneath us, two thousand five hundred Miles of swung worldweight Hit England’s western wall With a meaningless bump ...

On the Reservations

Ted Hughes, 2 June 1988

... for Jack Brown I Sitting Bull On Christmas Morning Who put this pit-head wheel, Smashed but carefully folded In some sooty fields, into his stocking? And this lifetime nightshift – a snarl Of sprung celluloid? Here’s his tin flattened, His helmet. And the actual sun closed Into what looks like a bible of coal That falls to bits as he lifts it ...

Meltdown

Anthony Thwaite, 26 October 1989

Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath 
by Anne Stevenson.
Viking, 413 pp., £15.95, October 1989, 0 670 81854 2
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... difficulty as well. A prefatory Author’s Note acknowledges ‘a great deal of help from Olwyn Hughes, literary agent to the Estate of Sylvia Plath. Ms Hughes’s contributions to the text have made it almost a work of dual authorship.’ The proof copy I was originally sent phrases it rather differently: ‘This ...

Going underground

Elaine Showalter, 12 May 1994

The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes 
by Janet Malcolm.
Knopf, 208 pp., $23, April 1994, 0 679 43158 6
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... but the publication in the New Yorker last August of Janet Malcolm’s study of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes was an exception. Brilliantly packaged with reprints of the Plath poems which the New Yorker had originally published, the issue was a sell-out on both sides of the Atlantic, and for weeks no dinner party from Hampstead to the Hamptons was ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: Poets Laureate, 7 January 1999

... been a callous decision, I recall thinking at the time, not to have chosen him. The appointment of Ted Hughes in 1984 was rather different. For one thing, he took over from cuddly John Betjeman, a poet who – with all his charm – was not too strong on Laureate-style gravitas. With Betjeman, we felt and hoped, there was always the possibility of ...

Three Poems

Michael Hofmann, 10 February 1994

... of my father, who hasn’t read aloud since his ‘event’. Darkness falls outside. Inside too. Ted Hughes is in the small audience, and afterwards asks my father whether he ever, like an Inuit, dreamed of his own defeat and death. My father, who’s heard some questions, but never anything like this, doesn’t know ...

War and Pax

Claude Rawson, 2 July 1981

War Music. An Account of Books 16 to 19 of Homer’s ‘Iliad’ 
by Christopher Logue.
Cape, 83 pp., £3.95, May 1981, 0 224 01534 6
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Ode to the Dodo. Poems from 1953 to 1978 
by Christopher Logue.
Cape, 176 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 224 01892 2
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Under the North Star 
by Ted Hughes and Leonard Baskin.
Faber, 47 pp., £5.95, April 1981, 9780571117215
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Ted HughesThe Unaccommodated Universe 
by Ekbert Faas.
Black Swallow Press, 229 pp., June 1983, 0 87685 459 5
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Myth in the Poetry of Ted Hughes 
by Stuart Hirschberg.
Wolfhound, 239 pp., £8.50, April 1981, 0 905473 50 7
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Ted HughesA Critical Study 
by Terry Gifford and Neil Roberts.
Faber, 288 pp., £9.50, April 1981, 0 571 11701 5
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... of ‘pax’ is somehow unassimilated, crackling angrily in a void of its own making. Like Ted Hughes, another poet much possessed by ‘violence’, Logue also writes children’s books, though neither poet seems often to enter that uncompromising world where children’s cruelty is for real. Both poets are ostensibly harsh and unevasive ...

‘This is not a biography’

Jacqueline Rose: Sylvia Plath, 22 August 2002

... what they know of Plath, they almost invariably reply that she killed herself and was married to Ted Hughes. Occasionally they run these two snippets together as if the second were, in some mysterious and not wholly formulated way, related to the first; as if together they add up to something that leaves nothing more to be said. I watch this story shut ...

At Mill with Slaves

Tom Paulin, 21 February 1985

... For me the crown is the symbol of the unity of the tribe.’ Ted Hughes St nissan mishan biskit bingo hut an skwidbone strand win me sunday fraym fotograf av momma kween. But me not want dis woolworting no lang no mor. Giv to Iron Man. He coom up dis rainrain day fram gravul pit pleec frogmen liv – wit mistultoes astrologee an beeds av glass dis kweenwite fotograf he giv to Iron Gull ...

Their Witness

Donald Davie, 27 February 1992

The Poetry of Survival: Post-War Poets of Central and Eastern Europe 
edited by Daniel Weissbort.
Anvil, 384 pp., £19.95, January 1992, 0 85646 187 3
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... apprenticeship in any case, there was every reason for the careerists (who included A. Alvarez and Ted Hughes, along with Daniel Weissbort) to look for, and claim to find, a short cut. Philip Larkin’s art, not to speak of Basil Bunting’s or Norman MacCaig’s, was too intricate for them to master. There must be a simpler way! And, brilliantly, they ...

The New Narrative

John Kerrigan, 16 February 1984

The Oxford Book of Narrative Verse 
edited by Iona Opie and Peter Opie.
Oxford, 407 pp., £8.95, September 1983, 0 19 214131 7
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Time’s Oriel 
by Kevin Crossley-Holland.
Hutchinson, 61 pp., £4.95, August 1983, 0 09 153291 4
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On Gender and Writing 
edited by Michelene Wandor.
Pandora, 166 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 0 86358 021 1
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Stone, Paper, Knife 
by Marge Piercy.
Pandora, 144 pp., £3.95, September 1983, 9780863580222
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The Achievement of Ted Hughes 
edited by Keith Sagar.
Manchester, 377 pp., £27.50, March 1983, 0 7190 0939 1
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Ted Hughes and Paul Muldoon 
Faber, £6.95, June 1983, 0 571 13090 9Show More
River 
by Ted Hughes and Peter Keen.
Faber, 128 pp., £10, September 1983, 0 571 13088 7
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Quoof 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 64 pp., £4, September 1983, 0 571 13117 4
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... should be continuous in its concerns with her most ambitiously prophetic narrative. To place Ted Hughes among the Narrative Poets may seem merely paradoxical. Yet, compared with his creative peers – Larkin, Heaney, or the greatest ‘maker’ of his generation Geoffrey Hill, with his confessedly ‘deficient sense of the anecdotal’ – that is ...

‘I was there, I saw it’

Ian Sansom: Ted Hughes, 19 February 1998

Birthday Letters 
by Ted Hughes.
Faber, 198 pp., £14.99, January 1998, 0 571 19472 9
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... down, and then he’ll get you.’ In the end, of course, time runs out for the dastardly Hook. Ted Hughes makes use of the story in his poem ‘Tick Tock Tick Tock’, from Remains of Elmet (1979), though with two important differences: the timepiece is now alarmed, and it’s Peter who’s in danger. Somebody else acted Peter Pan. I swallowed an ...

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