Friday, December 10, 2010

The Major Works of Ted Hughes

Ted Hughes is a prolific writer. He has published several volumes of verse, each containing a substantial number of poems. Given below are the titles of the various volumes of verse published by him, and the titles of the more important of the poems in each volume.

The more important poems in this volume are:
The Hawk in the Rain
The Thought-Fox
The Jaguar Soliloquy
The Horses Egg-Head
The Martyrdom of Bishop Farrar.
“LUPERCAL” (1970)
The more important of the poems in this volume are:
Mayday on Holdemess
Esther’s Tomcat
Hawk Roosting
The Bull Moses
Cat and Mouse
View of a Pig
An Otter
Pike Cleopatra to the Asp
This volume contains some pieces of prose in addition to verse. The more important of the poems in this volume are:
Ghost Crabs
Boom: “Bar-Room TV”
Second Glance at a Jaguar
Kreutzer Sonata
The Howling of Wolves
“CROW” (1970)
This volume contains a sequence of poems in which the crow figures not just as a bird but as a symbol. In these poems Hughes makes use of numerous legends about creation and birth to portray the predatory, mocking, indestructible crow. The more important of these poems are:
Examination at the Womb-Door
A Childish Prank
Crow’s First Lesson
Crow Alights
Song for a Phallus
Criminal Ballad
Crow Tries the Media
Crow’s Undersong
Fragment of an Ancient Tablet
Notes for a Little Play
Snake Hymn
The Lovepet
That Moment
Crow Hears Fate Knock on the Door
Crow Tyrannosaurus
The Black Beast
Crow’s Account of the Battle
Crow on the Beach
Crow and the Sea
Crow’s Fall
Crow Goes Hunting
Crow’s Playmates
Apple Tragedy
Crow’s Last Stand
“GAUDETE” (1977)
This is a long narrative poem with an epilogue consisting of forty-five short poems.
“CAVE BIRDS” (1978)
The more important of the poems in this collection are:
The Executioner
The Knight Bride and Groom
The Risen
The poems in this volume are largely descriptions of the landscape of the Calder Valley, west of Halifax, in Great Britain. This landscape had a personal appeal and significance for Hughes. A few of the poems in this volume are:
When Men Got to the Summit
Football at Slack
Dead Farms, Dead Leaves
Heptonstall Old Church
Heptonstall Cemetery
This volume contains a sequence of poems entitled “Prometheus on His Crag” written in Iran in 1971 in the course of an expedition by Hughes to that country. It also contains the following poems:
And Owl
The Dove Came
And the Phoenix Has Come
The Song

“THE RIVER” (1983)
This volume contains a sequence of poems invoking the riverside and river-life. The more important of these poems are the following:
An October Salmon
That Morning
Ted Hughes wrote a number of books for children; and these must also be regarded as part of his major works. The following are the books in this category:
“Season Songs” (containing also the poem Apple
“Under the North Star” (containing also Goose and
“The Earth-Owl and Other Moon-People”
“The Iron Man: A Story in Five Nights”
“Meet My Folks!”
“Nessie the Mannerless Monster”
“How the Whale Became”
“The Coming of the Kings and Other Plays”
In addition to these works, Ted Hughes also edited a number of anthologies, among them the following:
 “Poetry in the Making”
“A Choice of Emily Dickinson’s Verse”
“A Choice of Shakespeare’s Verse”
Summing up Ted Hughes’s achievement, a critic writes: “Together these volumes constitute interesting examples of the renewed vogue for topographical poetry (with illustrations) that arose in the environment-conscious second half of the twentieth century. Hughes’s stress on the physical, animal, and subconscious is in marked contrast to the urbane tone of “the Movement”; and his poetry, hailed as vital and original, has also been described as excessively brutal and violent”. (Topographical poetry means local poetry of which the fundamental object is some particular landscape, with the addition of historical retrospection or incidental meditation. This kind of poetry flourished mainly in the eighteenth century; but the genre had a renewed vogue in the late twentieth century when the emphasis was more on the vanishing rural scene than on country parks, estates, and gardens. Distinguished examples of twentieth-century topographical poetry are Ted Hughes’s “Remains of Elmet” (1979) and “River” (1983), already mentioned in the catalogue above. “The Movement” is a term describing a group of poets who include Kingsley Amis, Philip Larkin, Donald Davie, Joseph Enright, John Wain, Elizabeth Jennings, and Robert Conquest. Much of the work of these writers illustrates its anti-romantic, witty, rational, and sardonic tone).

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