The Hawk in the Rain

ISBN: 0571086144
ISBN 13: 9780571086146
By: Ted Hughes

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About this book

Originally published in 1957, Hawk in the Rain was the first collection of poems by Ted Hughes. The book won the New York Poetry Center First Publication Award, for which the judges were W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, and Marianne Moore; it also won the Somerset Maugham Award. Indeed, Hawk in the Rain was acclaimed by every reviewer from A. Alvarez to Edwin Muir, and in its pages we can still see the promising brilliance of one of the most important English-speaking poets of the modern age.

Reader's Thoughts

Mike Jensen

It was with this book that I realized that Hughes and I simply have different sensibilities, so no matter how highly esteemed his poetry is, it just isn’t for me. I had tried. There are a very few poems here that I like very much, a few more in which I “get” the merit even if I do not care for them, and several that made me wonder why he, late in his life, was considered England’s greatest living poet. To be clear, I do not blame Hughes for this. Too many smart people of excellent taste esteem him highly, but I don’t get it.


I just started reading Crow, and really liked it, so when I saw The Hawk in the Rain at the library I picked it up. I started reading The Hawk in the Rain because that was Hughes' first book. Some of the poems are really good, but overall, the book feels stuffy and uptight. I get glimpses of the direction Hughes will go in the future, but I definitely feel like this is a couple steps backward from Crow, which I am looking forward to getting back to. I'm glad I know I will like Hughes' later books because I don't know if I would give his poetry a chance if I read The Hawk in the Rain first.I kept feeling like I wanted to rush to get through some of the poems.The poems are very orderly, with stanzas and line breaks all done the same way. The titles were just mentioning the subjects only.The poems I liked best in the book:The Thought FoxSix Young Men (At the bottom of the person's post.)The Hawk in the Rain (bottom of post)

Bruce Macdonald

A must read. This book shaped the environmental concerns and the concern for nature that would dominate Hughes for the rest of his writing life. Way ahead of his time.


I admire the title poem and 'Wind' for their elementality. And there are lines elsewhere in the book that I admire. But generally I find Hughes's language and tone fussy and/or overblown and/or pompous.


Not my favorite of the poet's work. The tragedies he would face in the 60s would draw raw emotion from him; in this volume, Hughes is crafting poetry, not screaming from the core of his being.


I'm giving it 3 rather than 2 stars because I probably didn't pay as close attention to the book as I usually like to with poetry. Nevertheless, this certainly reads like a debut collection; though Hughes' central fascinations - cosmic, inexplicable violence; the lives of animals; women-as-Muse-figures; &co&co - are present here, he hasn't quite figured how to handle them in any coherent way yet.There are a handful of poems here that register among his best (and most famous): "The Thought-Fox," "The Jaguar," "The Hawk in the Rain," "The Horses," and "The Martyrdom of Bishop Farrar." Unfortunately, the collection is bookended with its strongest poems - the first four or five and the last four or five - and the long, long, long stretch through the middle feels full of chores. Funny that so many claim Hughes hit the ground running with his first publication (often the yardstick of comparison is Plath's first book The Colossus), when in fact I found nearly all the unmentioned poems in this book akin to doodling exercises, as if Hughes had said "I'll try out this rhythmic structure" or "Now I'll write a poem with this theme" at the beginning of each.In short: read the animal poems; read the war poems. For easy reference, these are, as I said, the first and last handfuls of the book. There are a few nice lines scattered throughout the rest, but even those don't hit the flesh as indelibly as one expects from Hughes.

Tracy Tondro

Read this first in a college poetry class. It's stayed with me ever since, and I keep dipping into it over the years. Some lines are stuck in my head because of their cadence and music: * "I drown in the drumming ploughland..." * "But who runs like the rest past these..."And some just because I respond to animal imagery: * "There is no better way to know us/Than as two wolves, come separately to a wood" * "And at his stirrup the two great-eyed grayhounds/... Leap like one, making delighted sounds"Hughes' later books, from Crow onward, are much darker. Hawk in the Rain isn't a stroll in the park, but it does have a positive spirit.


Hughes is, I think, my favorite poet. This was his first collection, and it's just stunning. The eponymous first poem alone is amazing, absolutely mesmerising in the lyrical beauty, power and violence of its imagery. I remember the first time I read it, it was like a revelation. I know that sounds pretentious, but it really is an amazing poem, and this is a brilliant collection.

Chris S

'Wind' - my favourite poem in this, Ted Hughes' first poetry collection. His work gets better.


I enjoyed his works, but not overly; some were darker than I would have liked, and some had me laughing in revelation that i indeed could relate.Worth a read.


Half of the poems in here were embarrasingly bad. Generally the best ones were at the beginning.

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