Selected Poems 1957-1994

ISBN: 0374528640
ISBN 13: 9780374528645
By: Ted Hughes

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About this book

Poems from every phase of the career of a great poetThis selection of Ted Hughes's poetry, made by the author himself in 1995, includes poems from every phase of his four-decade career. Here are poems from Hughes's first book, The Hawk in the Rain, and its successor, Lupercal, which introduced him as a major poet; from Wodwo, Crow and Gaudete, book-length poetic sequences in which the natural world is made into a thrilling and terror-filled analogue to our human one; and from six volumes of his maturity, here arranged thematically, in which the poet is at once rural chronicler and form-breaking modern artist. The volume also includes previously uncollected poems and eight poems later incorporated into Birthday Letters, Hughes's meditation in verse on his marriage to Sylvia Plath, which became an international bestseller the year after his death.

Reader's Thoughts

Ashley Blake

Ted Hughes and his generation of poets are the poets that inspire me to create. They are the makers of modern American poetry, in my mind, and I enjoy them as much as a good novel. I like this generation more than the current one, unfortunately, and they way Hughes himself creates and world, a time, an emotion, out of verse is unrivaled by even his more famous wife.


I came to Ted Hughes' selected poems after reading his collected letters and his "Birthday Letters", poems written "to" Sylvia Plath over the years following her death. I think I like the idea of Ted Hughes and his history (including the complicated relationship to Plath) than I do his poetry. There were several poems that spoke to me, though, including "Full Moon and Little Frieda": "A cool small evening shrunk to a dog bark and the clank of a bucket--/ And you listening./ A spider's web, tense for thedew's touch."

Chris S

Great intoduction to Ted Hughes, especially if you don't want to splash out o the 'Collected Poems'.

Dayna Smith

A masterful selection of Hughes' work. Hughes' poetry is descriptive and poignant. He is a must read poet for all ages. His work does contain adult themes and language.


I originally heard Ted Hughes' poetry read by himself (from a recording) in a poetry class. As I caught snippets of strange luminosity, I hurriedly scribbled them down, and have only now gone back and tracked down the actual poems. This volume contains all three of them: "Bride and Groom Lie Hidden for Three Days," "Life is Trying to be Life," and "Ravens." All three are even better than I remembered, and I'm already happy I bought this collection. I look forward to learning more about Hughes and his work.


¡Aleluya! Me ha costado lo mío terminar este libro, varios meses de hecho (y es que leer poesía en cualquier idioma, sin ayuda de la traducción acompasada, es una tarea bastante hardcore). Como casi todo hijo de vecino, llegué a Ted Hughes de la mano de su primera esposa, Sylvia Plath. Y como a casi todo hijo de vecino, me sorprende que siendo poetas tan diferentes acabaran juntos. De Plath dicen sus detractores que bordea la histeria; Hughes no puede ser más circunspecto, equilibrado y algo indiferente. Sus temas se inspiran casi exclusivamente en la naturaleza y los animalitos (unos más domésticos que otros) y la verdad es que han llegado a cansarme, a mí, que a pesar de haber nacido en la huerta me van poco los bucolismos. Creo que no lo contaré nunca entre mis poetas favoritos, pero su libro "Birthday letters", ese agridulce homenaje a su relación con Sylvia a la que seguramente admiró más que amó y no logró comprender del todo ni apreciar como escritora, es uno de las mejores compilaciones de poesía (¿amorosa?) que he tenido el gusto de leer.


So I started this collection of poetry by Hughes at least six months ago. I never dedicatedly read it but that was also kinda the point. Mainly just kept in my backpack or next to the bed as something to read when on the bus or if I couldn't sleep. That being said, I fell hard for Hughes. It has been less that 10 years since he passed and I am not entirely sure how much of his work will be canonized. In addition, he often gets overshadowed, at least in the States, by his marriage to Sylvia Plath. Which is unfortunate because his poetry makes Plath look like an eight-grader. In addition, I admittedly feel like there is some aspects of poetry that I don't understand. Despite all this, I think that this collection proves that no matter what kind of reader of poetry you are, the strength of Hughes is undeniable.Hughes is errie, potently dark and depicts the world as the overwhelming mess that it is. However, the greatest aspect of this is that Hughes is not an urban poet-in that his poetry often takes place out in the country, in nature, in small towns and the creaking bedrooms of thatch houses and decaying wood. Many may immediately be turned off by this and admittedly I normally would be too. However, Hughes pulls it off which makes it all that more intriguing and enjoyable of collection. Certainly, some sections of this are better than others. However, in over 314 pages of poetry, the good undoubtedly outweighs the bad. In addition, I had a friend once tell me that Hughes was too "masculine" for her. This is an accurate description of his work but its also his greatest strength. Finally, after reading this and comparing him to his contemporaries (Larkin, Heaney, etc) Hughes excels.1- 314 pages of poetry and I liked over 75 percent of it.2- Only poet I have ever read who can write a poem about an animal and I actually throughly enjoy it3- Reading his poems out loud is like have cotton in your mouth...4- No excerpt from any of the collections was without at least one poem I marked5- "Sketching a Thatcher"Five stars.P.S. I think Hughes' biography explains much about the style of his poetry. Working class, studied archaelogy, two wives who killed themselves including one who killed their daughter ...whoa.

Steff Berry

So sublime!!!He loved her and she loved himHis kisses sucked out her whole past and future or tried toHe had no other appetiteShe bit him she gnawed him she suckedShe wanted him complete inside herSafe and Sure forever and everTheir little cries fluttered into the curtainsHer eyes wanted nothing to get awayHer looks nailed down his hands his wrists his elbowsHe gripped her hard so that lifeShould not drag her from that momentHe wanted all future to ceaseHe wanted to topple with his arms round herOr everlasting or whatever there wasHer embrace was an immense pressTo print him into her bonesHis smiles were the garrets of a fairy placeWhere the real world would never comeHer smiles were spider bitesSo he would lie still till she felt hungryHis word were occupying armiesHer laughs were an assasin's attemptsHis looks were bullets daggers of revengeHer glances were ghosts in the corner with horrible secretsHis whispers were whips and jackbootsHer kisses were lawyers steadily writingHis caresses were the last hooks of a castaway Her love-tricks were the grinding of locksAnd their deep cries crawled over the floorsLike an animal dragging a great trapHis promises were the surgeon's gagHer promises took the top off his skullShe would get a brooch made of itHis vows pulled out all her sinews He showed her how to make a love-knotAt the back of her secret drawerTheir screams stuck in the wallTheir heads fell apart into sleep like the two halvesOf a lopped melon, but love is hard to stopIn their entwined sleep they exchanged arms and legsIn their dreams their brains took each other hostageIn the morning they wore each other's face

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