Read Collected Poems by Ted Hughes Paul Keegan Online


All the poems of a great 20th-century poetFrom the astonishing debut Hawk in the Rain (1957) to Birthday Letters (1998), Ted Hughes was one of postwar literature's truly prodigious poets. This remarkable volume gathers all of his work, from his earliest poems (published only in journals) through the ground-breaking volumes Crow (1970), Gaudete(1977), and Tales from Ovid (1All the poems of a great 20th-century poetFrom the astonishing debut Hawk in the Rain (1957) to Birthday Letters (1998), Ted Hughes was one of postwar literature's truly prodigious poets. This remarkable volume gathers all of his work, from his earliest poems (published only in journals) through the ground-breaking volumes Crow (1970), Gaudete(1977), and Tales from Ovid (1997). It includes poems Hughes composed for fine-press printers, poems he wrote as England's Poet Laureate, and those children's poems that he meant for adults as well. This omnium-gatherum of Hughes's work is animated throughout by a voice that, as Seamus Heaney remarked, was simply "longer and deeper and rougher" than those of his contemporaries. ...

Title : Collected Poems
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ISBN : 9780374125387
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 1376 Pages
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Collected Poems Reviews

  • Robert
    2019-02-02 10:51

    Ted Hughes is probably the greatest British post-WWII poet and possibly the best of the 20th Century. He would have been significant if he had only ever produced his debut collection, The Hawk in the Rain, in which he rescued nature observation from the Romantics, bringing a post-Darwinian sensibility to foxes, horses, hawks, jaguars and more. Subsequent collections continued this theme with robust, sometimes brutal language deployed to acheive his aims. The a-moral savagery of the Hawk Roosting represents a pinacle of this type of poem which he continued to write late into his career, despite the pessimism of the Monster constantly asked to "repeat that." Poems about plants and animals are not all he will be remembered for - far from it: he brought us Crow, the Trickster God of Pacific Northwest native American tribes, creating myths for the 20th Century. Taking a contemporary Western cultural mileiu of secular anthropology, humanity viewed through the eyes of animal behaviourists, technology and evolution again, Hughes produces miniature legends of a confused, violent Black Beast and a God that dispairs of him, that encapsulate truths of our contemporary world neatly, many with a twisted, often acidicly ironic kink in their tail feathers. THIS REVIEW HAS BEEN CURTAILED IN PROTEST AT GOODREADS' CENSORSHIP POLICYSee the complete review here:

  • Laura
    2019-01-26 12:48

    I rate this as one of my best buys of 2008. For your money (£17.99 for the paperback) you get an absolutely enormous tome of work. Even though I have read most of TH's poetry in the individual volumes, I feel that I never fully appreciated them until I read them again in this book.TH often revisited certain events in his poetry, usually after many years, expanding on themes and emotions. As this collection is so wonderfully edited (Faber) it is easy to link up poems on the same subject but written decades apart. There are some poems which many will be unfamiliar with due to a limited original release.I ended up reading the whole HUGE book in a few days, so impressive is the style of the work, and I still dip into it from time to time. I feel that Hughes was one of our greatest poets and it is sad that in the public's eyes, perhaps his relationship with Plath overshadows his work, preventing due appreciation for a truly great poet and modern voice.

  • Xio
    2019-02-07 14:44

    wow wow I am smitten and awestruck. A dear friend was reading some of the poems early saturday afternoon as I lay on his bed watching the light...This one. Tractor The tractor stands frozen an agonyTo think of. All nightSnow packed its open entrails. Now a head-pincering gale,A spill of molten ice, smoking snow,Pours into its steel.At white heat of numbness it standsIn the aimed hosing of ground-level fieriness. It defied flesh and won't start.Hands are like wounds alreadyInside armour gloves, and feet are unbelievableAs if the toe-nails were all just torn off.I stare at it in hatred. Beyond itThe copse hisses - capitulates miserablyIn the fleeing, failing light. Starlings,A dirtier sleetier snow, blow smokily, unendingly, overTowards plantations Eastward.All the time the tractor is sinkingThrough the degrees, deepeningInto its hell of ice. The starting leverCracks its action, like a snapping knuckle.The battery is alive - but like a lambTrying to nudge its solid-frozen mother -While the seat claims my buttock-bones, bitesWith the space-cold of earth, which it has joinedIn one solid lump. I squirt commercial sure-fireDown the black throat - it just coughs.It ridicules me - a trap of iron stupidityI've stepped into. I drive the batteryAs if I were hammering and hammeringThe frozen arrangement to pieces with a hammerAnd it jabbers laughing pain-crying mockinglyInto happy life. And standsShuddering itself full of heat, seeming to enlarge slowlyLike a demon demonstratingA more-than-usually-complete materialization -Suddenly it jerks from its solidarityWith the concrete, and lurches towards a stanchionBursting with superhuman well-being and abandonShouting Where Where? Worse iron is waiting. Power-lift kneelsLevers awake imprisoned deadweight,Shackle-pins bedded in cast-iron cow-shit.The blind and vibrating condemned obedienceOf iron to the cruelty of iron,Wheels screeched out of their night-locks - FingersAmong the tormentedTonnage and burning of iron EyesWeeping in the wind of chloroform And the tractor, streaming with sweat,Raging and trembling and rejoicing. Ted Hughes

  • Jim Coughenour
    2019-02-11 17:00

    I'm astonished every time I settle down with this book. Hughes is my favorite English postwar poet (well, unless you count Thom Gunn). For a couple decades I was prejudiced against him because I read The Savage God at an impressionable age. Then one afternoon I picked up a slim volume of his selected poetry in a Vancouver bookstore. I read his Crow poems; I was transfixed right there in the aisle of Chapters, blocking polite Canadians from browsing. I was floored.Crow's First LessonGod tried to teach Crow how to talk.“Love,” said God. “Say, Love.”Crow gaped, and the white shark crashed into the seaAnd went rolling downwards, discovering its own depth.“No, no,” said God. “Say Love. Now try it. Love.”Crow gaped, and a bluefly, a tsetse, a mosquitoZoomed out and downTo their sundry flesh-pots.“A final try,” said God. “Now, Love.”Crow convulsed, gaped, retched andMan’s bodiless prodigious headBulbed out onto the earth, with swivelling eyes,Jabbering protest —And Crow retched again, before God could stop him.And woman’s vulva dropped over man’s neck and tightened.The two struggled together on the grass.God struggled to part them, cursed, wept —Crow flew guiltily off.Hughes is a savage god.This collection is edited by Paul Keegan in completely satisfying edition, including The Birthday Letters. Fine stuff. Hughes wrote poetry with hot blood and sharp intelligence flowing through its lines.Something else is aliveBeside the clock's lonelinessAnd this blank page where my fingers move.

  • Ilze
    2019-02-17 10:49

    This is a very valuable book. It not only contains the uncollected work of the poet laureate, but includes poems out of Howls and Whispers of which only a limited number of copies were printed by the Gehenna Press. As widower of Sylvia Plath and Assia Wevill (who both committed suicide), Hughes is able to express anger about what happened but also beauty when he finds himself in nature. Who else would come up with this picturesque phrase for butterflies: “Wings wide open to tight-closed to flat open” – you can see the motion of the insect in the sun – or the “hot stink of fox” that made Hughes famous?! It is the kind of image use that you will find throughout this book. There are critics who believe that some of Hughes’ work is “appalling” (e.g. “Lovepet”), but who can blame them? Anger and unconscious elements do have ugly parts in them. By contrast, let's not forget the TreesI whispered to the holly ...There was a rustle of answer - dark,Dark, dark, a gleamer recoiling tensely backwardInto a closing nest of shattered weapons,Like a squid into clouds of protection.I plucked a spiny leaf. Nothing protested.Glints twitched, watched me....Trees, it is your own strangeness, in the dank wood,Makes me so horrifyingI dare not hear my own footfall.

  • Chris
    2019-02-08 13:38

    Ted Hughes, author of The Iron Man (later to changed to “The Iron Giant”), has easily become one of my favorite poets of all time. He takes such a close, hard look at life, and speaks so very honestly and bravely. He does exactly what a poet ought to be doing: speaking passionately, imaginatively, complexly, uniquely, and relatably about life. He doesn’t relish being misunderstood and passed over by the masses, as some poets do. I can keep up with much of it, but not so easily that I get bored. Probably the most well-known books in this anthology of his collected poetical works are Crow, Wodwo, and Birthday Letters.Crow is a collection of poems in which a crow, a metaphor or totem for the author, sets out on a carnal, dissective, and visceral probing into the meaning of life and death. The crow often functions as a questioner of life and God, epitomizing the author himself at times; while at other times the crow is the incarnation of life, death, death-in-life, suffering, and an unconscious, bestial absurdity growing into consciousness. This is by far my favorite book of poems in his collected works. The close examination of life in all of its filth, cruelty, danger, and beauty is so incredibly raw and direct, and in some way this ability to stare into the abyss, bordering on morbidity, earns the trust of the reader. “This is how he kept his conscience so pure/ He was black/ (Blacker/ Than the eyepupils/ Of the gunbarrels.)” Brute observation balanced with impassioned, imaginative reportage is what Hughes excels at. His perspective includes the darkest places he’s found on earth, and blends despair and horror with the beauty and awe of a terrifyingly mixed universe into a worldview that preserves the tension and ultimately reveals a gyrating harmony of good and bad which most definitely characterizes human reality. Many of the poems sound like nonsense on first look; but the crude, jutting imagery and phantasmagoric chain of events are mesmerizing. I sense that they are mysterious and profound, even when I don’t fully understand.My favorite poems from Crow: Crow’s First Lesson, A Kill, The Battle Of Osfrontalis, Examination At The Womb Door (BEST!), Crow’s Account Of The Battle, Oedipus Crow, The Smile, Crow Blacker than Ever, Revenge Fable, Crow and Stone, Lovesong, Two Eskimo Songs: Fleeing From Eternity, I See a Bear, and Crow the Just. Wodwo, meaning “wildman” in old English, is a collection of miscellaneous poems which includes the eponymous poem “Wodwo.” Their themes are random, which I love this in a book of poems, but the motif of finding one’s way through the universe is still prevalent and masterful. Favorites: Ghost Crabs, Boom, Public Bar T.V., A Vegetarian, Sugar Loaf, Theology, Song Of A Rat, Skylarks, You Drive In A Circle, Pibroch, The Howling Of Wolves, Gnat Psalm, and Wodwo.Birthday Letters is a collection of poems that Hughes which orbit the theme of his relationship with Sylvia Plath. It was an obviously turbulent liaison for both parties, and I can’t imagine the impact this sort of strain must have had on the children. Plath had battled clinical depression for years with constant follow-up by physicians, especially in her final days. She moved into her own apartment with their two kids when she learned Hughes was having an affair. Probably as a result of her long history battling depression and several botched suicide attempts, and the heartache about Hughes’ infidelity, Plath committed suicide at the age of 30 by sticking her head in an oven and turning on the gas. She died of carbon monoxide poisoning. She had sealed the doors between herself and her sleeping children with wet towels, opened their windows and placed bread and milk in their room. Plath’s history of depression notwithstanding, many still blame Hughes for Plath’s death. An especially committed band of protesters have periodically vandalized and effaced the headstone Ted erected for his wife’s grave because Hughes’ name appears on it (“[they] bite the face off her gravestone”), and each time Hughes had it repaired. Six years after Plath’s suicide, his mistress named Assia Wevill, whom Hughes left Plath for and was only one of several affairs he would develop in his lifetime, killed herself in the same way Plath had, but deepened the wound grievously by asphyxiating along with herself the 4-year-old daughter Hughes and Wevill had together. And the train wreck of Hughes’ life continued when in 2009, 11 years after Hughes’ death, Hughes’ and Plath’s son committed suicide by hanging himself.The Birthday Poems poems offer a very intimate glimpse of the impetuous and volatile relationship between Hughes and Plath, two emotionally taut and over reactive poets of great genius. Their mental/emotional processes are so inscrutable to the common person (“I had accepted/ The meteor logical phenomena/ That kept your compass steady.”), and it makes some of their struggles appear melodramatic and petty to many onlookers. Add to that Plath’s clinical depression, possibly the by-product of an anxiety disorder, the newly developed/late-adopted drugs and methods to treat anxiety and depression, the pressures of genius and fame (“you will have paid for [fame] with your happiness”), the British post-war economy (“the stink of fear was still hanging in the wardrobes”), and Hughes’ infidelity, and one can better understand the manic states and vitriolic interactions in Plath and Hughes’ history which characterize the poems of Birthday Letters. Some of them are indeed best understood in light of the Hughes/Plath saga, but much can be understood on their own. And some, like many of his poems, can’t be properly understood at all, but must be felt.To be honest, Birthday Letters does feel a bit mundane in parts and lacked some thrust. Perhaps it functioned more as an autobiography or was simplified as an apologetic for the public, but I felt a significant difference between this and his other poems. It could be he found it to be an exhausting but propitiatory labor, and he felt he owed it to Sylvia, himself, his children and the public not to obscure the events leading to/from Sylvia’s death with his own theatrics. He had, in fact, burnt some entries of Plath’s journal before publishing it to protect the children, so his reserve may still have been motivating him, even though Birthday Letters was published so many years later. The poems are Hughes handiwork to be sure, full of imagination and passion, but they lack a certain boldness, in my opinion, which might be due to being fueled by guilt.My favorite poems from Birthday Letters are: God Help the Wolf after Whom the Dogs Do Not Bark, Fever, The Gypsy, The Lodger, The Table, Dream Life, The Rabbit Catcher, The Bee God, Being Christlike, Dreamers, Fairy Tale, The Blackbird, Robbing Myself, The Cast, Life After Death, and The Dogs Are Eating Your Mother. From the stories people tell about the life of Hughes, I’m not so sure I celebrate the poet as I do the poetry. I have no problem snapping off this bejeweled finger from the rot of a despicable man’s life. It is incredible and soul-illuminating. The anthology of collected poems published in 2005 is massive, and I have enjoyed every bit of it. It is cud for a lifetime. Okay, that’s nasty, but…you know what I’m saying.

  • Modernisti
    2019-02-19 11:05

    The third part of the poem Out by Ted Hughes, Remembrance DayThe context of this poem is 11th November, Remembrance Day, the day the armistice of the First World War was made in 1918. Ted Hughes’s father and many other Yorkshire men fought in the war taking part in the Gallipoli battle, being one of the few survivors of it. The poem has three separate parts and it is written in 1967, but Hughes has told that when he started to write poetry after 1945, he wrote a great deal about his father’s war experience (Skea 2009). His father was a farmer and a shop-keeper and the poem alludes to farming. Hughes was also an admirer of Wilfred Owen’s First World War poetry (ibid.). Canadian John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields (1915) was a famous First World War poem must also be mentioned as an idealistic war poem which brought poppies as a symbol for the Great War into general consciousness. Hughes attempts to tear down the entire institution of remembering war and all the violent memories of it. The poem has many forceful metaphors and words. Poppies are usually worn as a buttonhole on the Remembrance Day. Hughes elaborates the flower theme very intensively: the poppy becomes a lifeless canvas puppet (line 4, it is often is made of paper or cloth), then metamorphoses into a sea-anemone (line 19, a flesh-eating animal masquerading as a flower). In addition, the poppy with its red color and a round shape functions as a metaphor for the wound (1), the mouth of the grave (1-2), a searching womb (2) and its habitual use on Remembrance Day is depicted as whoring everywhere (5). Hughes thus feminizes and personifies a rather conventional ornament into predatory femininity or into an abysmal symbol for war and death. The word puppet has a connotation: it can be attributed to a woman in a derogatory manner. It may be that the homeland as a mother who requires sacrifices from its sons also affects the imagery. The poem starts with a parallelism of the poppy is---the poppy is ((1), then the abrupt turn into female symbolic with womb (2) takes place, making an internal alliterative rhyme with wound (2). There is intensification, a growth into an aposiopesis marked by a dash after maybe a womb searching— aposiopesis means breaking off as if unable to continue (2). Then the image of the flower whoring is presented, and the first part of the poem ends after a caesura (4) with a short cleft statement: It is years since I wore a one. In the second part of the poem Hughes narrates his father’s war experience, its affect to his mother and to him in a long 60-word sentence.The “metal” metaphors start to evolve from shrapnel which evolves into plough, iron and anchor, all indicating a general heaviness and a bind to war that extends to the next generation. There is a slight hint of biblical swords into plowshares , although this time the plough does not bring spiritual peace. There is repetition and parallelism in this sentence (gripped me, gripped all his dead, the dead meaning his father’s fallen comrades, lines 7, 8) as well as harsh sounds, a dissonance of r and s (shrapnel, shattered, gripped) as well as assonance of o (no more, outgrow, iron, line 9). You can also detect an alliteration of sh in the shrapnel that shattered and a dactyl of shattered. The mother’s worry about their farming livelihood with his depressed husband is one more allusion to oppressive females, it is in a simile like iron (i.e. the war memories) Hung deeper than refreshing of the ploughs /In the woe-dark under my mother’s eye— (9-11). There is another aposiopesis here. With a line break in the phrase One anchor/ Holding my juvenile neck into the dunkings of Atlantic Hughes gives emphasis to One anchor (12-13). The element of sea and water is now introduced, the image is not anymore of Hughes’s young father in the First World War, but Hughes’s own young life repressed by the war memories, as if in a danger of drowning. In the last part, Hughes takes a very thorough farewell of the war by using short, imperative sentences and yet manages to allude hauntingly to Robert Graves’s famous First World War autobiography Goodbye To All That (1929). Hughes makes three parallel goodbyes: to that bloody-minded flower (14), to the cenotaphs on my mother’s breasts (16), to all the remaindered charms […:] (17). Between these imperatives or strong wishes he paraphrases the Bible (Matth.8:22): The dead bury the dead (15). As the paraphrase is more imperative than the original Bible verse, let the dead bury the dead, the effect is nearly as evocative as the strong word bloody-minded. The b and d resonance is heavy in Goodbye to that bloody-minded flower; The dead bury the dead, like spitting the words. A cenotaph is an empty grave (usually with a statue) in the homeland for those who were left in the battlefield or are buried into foreign ground. Carrying such a memento as a brooch or as a necklace or carrying charms for her husband’s survival may have been a habit of Hughes’s mother’s or a general habit. There is again a great deal of harsh dissonance of r and s in cenotaphs on my mother’s breasts (note the plural breasts, usually in singular, it is yet one more female element) and the remaindered charms of my father’s survival. Then he continues to state: Let England close. Let the green sea-anemone close. The patriotic causes are no good (England) when compared to the violent heritage they create, and the flower must stop eating. As Hughes himself has interpreted the meaning of this poem as a breaking away from the earlier generation and its chagrins and experiences (Skea 2009), I get a sense of some necessary realization of truth or of a needed action, as in the fierce urgency of now (Martin Luther King 2009) or even in Hamlet’s meditation on time and providence, which are always present, whereas the readiness is all (Shakespeare 1996: 710). The poem works as a ritual or as an exorcism of heavy inheritance—and yet it is very skillfully structured and it has many fine details put together artistically. . References:Graves 2009. The biography of Robert Graves. Retrieved from 7th Nov 2009John McCrae 2009. In Flanders Fields. Retrieved from 7th Nov 2009Martin Luther King 2009. I have a dream. Retrieved from 7th Nov 2009Shakespeare W. 1996. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. The Wordsworth Editions: Ware.Skea 2009. The Ted Hughes Homepage: Ted Hughes at the Adelaide Festival Writers' Week, March 1976. Retrieved from 7th Nov 2009

  • Chad
    2019-02-09 17:04

    I like Tedbut he's deadneverthelessthis book is well readThis is why I am not a poet!

  • Pascale Petit
    2019-02-15 16:42

    A vast tome of a book full of treasures, contains all my favourites plus extra uncollecteds.

  • Claudia
    2019-01-29 12:39

    Great UK poetry of postwar 20th Century. It does feel like it too in my view. This is a great edition containing Hughes' early poetry, letters, Amazing collection of poetry. I am often amazed at Hughes' capacity to weaving together intertwined complexities to deliver beautiful poetry. The hardships of the author, writing at unforgiving hours, The fish and the pike, the moon and his tale of love and so much more. Worth a read for those of us who haven't yet read him. Outstanding author.

    2019-01-27 17:57

    His Crow Poems are well worth reading.

  • Tim C
    2019-01-24 14:44

    Alas, I've abandoned this one ...Enjoyed 'Hawk in the Rain' but got my hoof stuck in the cattle-grid of 'Crow' and didn't make it to the undoubtedly rich pastures that lie beyond. Maybe I'll come back this way one day yet, when I have more time.

  • Diann Blakely
    2019-02-10 10:50

    Farrar, Straus and Giroux immediately followed Robert Lowell’s COLLECTED POEMS with a similarly magisterial edition of Hughes's work. Poetry purists may grumble that the timing of the Hughes volume, which coincides with that of the movie SYLVIA, betrays a crass commercialism. It’s important to note, however, that apart from Philip Larkin, Hughes is the most famous poet to emerge from post-war England, and Hughes’ collected work, while sui generis, was in the company of some of that’s best poetry-related books. October saw the arrival of the paperback edition of WINTERING (Anchor Books), Kate Moses’ dazzling fictional rendition of Plath’s last months, told in chapters that correspond to the original ARIEL; Lydia Bundtzen’s THE OTHER ARIEL (University of Massachusetts Press), a more scholarly but infinitely readable and engaging work on the same subject; and HER HUSBAND (Viking), Diane Wood-Middlebrook’s top-flight literary biography of Hughes focused on his years with Plath. Last but hardly least is GIVING UP (St. Martin’s), Jillian Becker’s devastating account of Plath’s last days, which she spent with the Becker family, and her funeral. Among such books, and of particular local interest, is CROW STEERED, BERGS APPEARED, a memoir by Lucas Myers, a graduate of the University of the South. After meeting Hughes in Cambridge and starting a magazine with him, Myers became the future British Poet Laureate’s lifelong friend. The last has been re-issued by Five Leaves / Richard Hollis Press in England as AN ESSENTIAL SELF: TED HUGHES AND SYLVIA PLATH. Accompanything them are Daniel Huws' MEMORIES OF TED HUGHES: 1952-1963; Daniel Weissbort's TED HUGHES AND TRANSLATION, which is an indispensable addition not only to translators, but all scholars and poets interested in *process*; and also Susan Alliston's POEMS AND JOURNALS: 1960-1969: INTRODUCTION BY TED HUGHES. Before I even noticed a particular journal entry, I saw--and heard--yet another effort at "channelling Sylvia," just as that attempted by Assia Guttman Wevill. "11 February 1964"One year ago, in the morning, Sylvia died ... Sylvia--my poems--some of them modelled on yours (ie [sic] making certain pages & at its beginning (big things) and at the end, somewhere in Paris. P-----why didn't we meet? I am neither as extreme gifted nor as honest as you. We are, in spite of [Hughes's] saying I talked as if I married to him, completely different people. But this stupid propensity to identify me with you--I am nothing beside you. I wish you were alive."This is the same woman with whom Hughes spent the weekend before Plath's suicide, or attempt-gone-wrong. Despite the use of words such as "abnormal" or other pejorative terms about Plath's mental health in Anne Stevenson's biography, also its memoirs (one was written by Myers), one begins to ask questions about British Bloke Misogyny, not to mention the issue of narcissistic personality disorder. And it's not to Plath I'd say "j'accuse." What kind of man, after all, leaves one woman for another and then makes himself unavailable for 72 hours at a time he knows her to be in extreme distress, to have sex with a third?

  • Leanna
    2019-02-08 11:04

    I was hoping to love Ted Hughes, as I'd heard about his preoccupation with animals and myth, two poetic interests that I share. Also, I've fallen in love with Sylvia Plath this summer, which further piqued my interest in him. After spending some time with his Collected, I think I like his poetry, but am not in love with it. The books "Crow," "Season Songs," "Moortown Diary," and "Birthday Letters" stood out to me the most. Another reason I thought Ted Hughes would be up my alley is because I know he liked and was influenced by Eastern European poets; he wrote an introduction to one of Vasko Popa's collections, and I love Popa. But in many ways "Crow" seemed like an imitation of Popa's style--using a malevolent animal as a protagonist in some sort of how-the-world-was-created poetic series. Crow is definitely an intriguing character--he can be repulsive, destructive, enigmatic. But I wanted more "crowness"--it sometimes seemed like "crow" could have been replaced with any other animal with no repercussions. Also, while the nastiness and outsiderness of Crow intrigued me, I think Popa did it better--his poems, perhaps in their compression, or their more oblique relationship to religion, or perhaps in their sly sense of humor--simply cut me to the quick more."Season Songs" and "Moortown Diary" seemed similar to me in that the books compile poems about farmlife. I was totally into the gory stories Hughes told about birthing calves, and the interior lives of sheep, and that kind of thing. Still, while intriguing, it didn't seem all that original to me--there was some sort of Roethkian tone in there, or something, that I felt like I'd heard before.So, yeah, still mulling Hughes over, but I have to say I was kind of disappointed. I was surprised by a misogynistic tone that popped up now and again, but more than that, I was just a little bored! I think I was hoping he would be wilder. Or maybe I was secretly hoping he'd be more like Plath. Or maybe I missed a more personal tone/presence.I think I can take away one thing from him, and that's how crazy he can get with some of his animal portraits--he veers away from the more characteristic traits into unusual territory, and I often enjoyed his flexibility in how he chose to describe an animal. I was really taken with "Birthday Letters" but I want to spend more time with it before I comment. Thoughts TK on that.

  • Shari
    2019-02-10 16:54

    This is a daunting 1400 page book of which 1195 pages are poetry. It's a long read, and should be. It's too good to be rushed through. The one thing it doesn't have enough of would be, at least, a short biography of Hughes. It gives very little information along those lines, but it does give a rather good preliminary of the poetic history of Hughes's work.Hughes plays with different forms in his writing. Some of his poems are short lines offering phrases, not whole thoughts but pieces of thoughts, and need to be worked at. Then there are his fun poems, the unpunctuated ones that require, at least, a couple of run-throughs to determine the tune. They fairly sing. (I loved these.) He plays with words, repeating a word in several consecutive lines and in the final line, transposing the letters, such as "tries" to "tires," or he will do the same but in the final line add a couple of letters already in the word, such as "trees" to "streets." He uses "elephance" to denote "elephantness," neither word being much in vogue. He also uses words that have long ago fallen out of usage, or are rarely used. His poems on animal husbandry, and his nature poetry of birds and fish, are wonderful, immediate, rugged, and vivid. But BIRTHDAY LETTERS and HOWLS AND WHISPERS, written in 1998, the year of his death, about his wife, Sylvia Plath, and their history, are the most poignant, powerful, and beautiful.There is far too much to discuss in this collection of poetry. Read it, when you are ready to face the heft of the tome. It's worth the time. Read it in pieces; take your time.

  • Zara
    2019-01-27 12:05

    THE THOUGHT-FOXI imagine this midnight moment’s forest: Something else is alive Beside the clock’s loneliness And this blank page where my fingers move. Through the window I see no star: Something more nearThough deeper within darkness Is entering the loneliness: Cold, delicately as the dark snow, A fox’s nose touches twig, leaf; Two eyes serve a movement, that nowAnd again now, and now, and now Sets neat prints into the snow Between trees, and warily a lame Shadow lags by stump and in hollow Of a body that is bold to comeAcross clearings, an eye,A widening deepening greenness, Brilliantly, concentratedly, Coming about its own businessTill, with a sudden sharp hot stink of foxIt enters the dark hole of the head.The window is starless still; the clock ticks,The page is printed.

  • Madison H.
    2019-02-10 16:48

    DNF-ed this one. I think the sheer size of this book and the amount of information it held intimidated me and made it difficult for me to read. Also, though Hughes is obviously a very talented writer his style wasn't really grabbing me. I loved "The Thought Fox" and "Horses". I thought the images and language in these poems were absolutely beautiful. But his other poems left me feeling underwhelmed or just plain uncomfortable. And even with the few poems that I read I was quickly introduced to his favorite subject matte: animals, nature, and women. I don't particularly like his view of women either. It seems he views them as prey. And that made my reading experience a bit uncomfortable needless to say. I do want to try Hughes again, just not right now.

  • Chris
    2019-02-02 10:38

    EnduringSomething in you that was not meant to die:A voice we never knew we hadUttering out of the bowels of earthIts taut, Yorkshire vowels,Its own sturdy music.Uncompromising in your ambivalencesHalf nihilist, half priest,Carrying nature’s indifference like a crucifix;Surviving the hell of your passionsAnd leaving us words so charged, So lovingly held:Like sacraments through which we access Ancient futures.this was my elegy for TH after his death

  • Nikki
    2019-02-16 17:57

    One day, I'm going to read Hughes' Collected Poems alongside Plath's. The section of most interest to me was "Birthday Letters". I found it the most accessible to start with, and steadily worked through it. Some of those are a punch in the gut! I like the one about when Sylvia had a fever and kept complaining that she was going to die, and the poem says something about if she keeps crying wolf, he won't know when things are really bad.

  • Gina
    2019-01-23 13:50

    I received this book as a first read. Hughes wasn't the poet that Plath or other contemporaries were but still wrote some decent stuff. The early poetry was more stream of consciousness style. I enjoyed the later poetry which was more of the storytelling variety. The appendix with notes on the poems was highly informative and added a lot of context. A nice collection to own or gift.

  • Stephen
    2019-01-24 11:38

    A great collection of his poems - disturbingly dark, full of pieces that show a fascination with death, nature, and the harshness of the natural world. A pity Daniel Craig didn't really do him justice in 'Sylvia'.....

  • secondwomn
    2019-01-31 13:00

    although i don't really love everything that ted hughes wrote, the things that strike me are like rip tides. his metamorphosis is stark, chilling, erotic. i like hughes best when he is relating a strong emotion rather than a strong description.

  • Bill Clough
    2019-01-21 12:02

    Excellent collection of one of the most important (and often overlooked) English poets of the 20th century.

  • C
    2019-01-29 15:53

    I need to come back to this when I'm more patient/willing to read about, in explicit detail, farm animals giving birth.

  • Eveline Chao
    2019-02-01 11:57

    Manly poems, good poems.

  • Laura
    2019-02-08 17:44

    I couldn't get into Hughes, but still think he's worth reading.

  • Thomas Walsh
    2019-02-02 10:50

    don't listen to those who tell you Plath was better. Hughes was the ultimate poet of the duo, and of his time. OK, he had a harsh personality, but we're supposed to judge the work, not the person.

  • Rajendra Kumar
    2019-01-26 17:55

    This poetic oeuvre of Ted Hughes invites the critics, the scholars and the students of literature to the rich field of poetic genius where the poet has excelled the verbal boundaries.

  • Chris Purser
    2019-02-17 11:41

    This is great collection of poetry by one of the best British poets of the 20th century

  • Chris S
    2019-02-07 17:02

    A gem. Publishes previously unavailable and hard to find work that spans his career.