Ted Hughes

Ted Hughes Poems

He loved her and she loved him.
His kisses sucked out her whole past and future or tried to
He had no other appetite
She bit him she gnawed him she sucked

I sit in the top of the wood, my eyes closed.
Inaction, no falsifying dream
Between my hooked head and hooked feet:
Or in sleep rehearse perfect kills and eat.


This house has been far out at sea all night,
The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills,
Winds stampeding the fields under the window
Floundering black astride and blinding wet

She gives him his eyes, she found them
Among some rubble, among some beetles

He gives her her skin

A cool small evening shrunk to a dog bark and the clank of a bucket -
And you listening.
A spider's web, tense for the dew's touch.
A pail lifted, still and brimming - mirror

I imagine this midnight moment's forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock's loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.

When Crow was white he decided the sun was too white.
He decided it glared much too whitely.
He decided to attack it and defeat it.

Remember how we picked the daffodils?
Nobody else remembers, but I remember.
Your daughter came with her armfuls, eager and happy,
Helping the harvest. She has forgotten.

Russia and America circle each other;
Threats nudge an act that were without doubt
A melting of the mould in the mother,
Stones melting about the root.

The flame-red moon, the harvest moon,
Rolls along the hills, gently bouncing,
A vast balloon,
Till it takes off, and sinks upward

Crow, feeling his brain slip,
Finds his every feather the fossil of a murder.

Who murdered all these?

Freezing dusk is closing
    Like a slow trap of steel
On trees and roads and hills and all
    That can no longer feel.

The first sorrow of autumn
Is the slow goodbye
Of the garden who stands so long in the evening-
A brown poppy head,

Against the rubber tongues of cows and the hoeing hands of men
Thistles spike the summer air
And crackle open under a blue-black pressure.

I saw my world again through your eyes
As I would see it again through your children's eyes.
Through your eyes it was foreign.
Plain hedge hawthorns were peculiar aliens,

Who owns those scrawny little feet?    Death.
Who owns this bristly scorched-looking face?    Death.
Who owns these still-working lungs?    Death.
Who owns this utility coat of muscles?    Death.


Pike, three inches long, perfect
Pike in all parts, green tigering the gold.
Killers from the egg: the malevolent aged grin.
They dance on the surface among the flies.

We sit late, watching the dark slowly unfold:
No clock counts this.
When kisses are repeated and the arms hold
There is no telling where time is.

Terrifying are the attent sleek thrushes on the lawn,
More coiled steel than living - a poised
Dark deadly eye, those delicate legs
Triggered to stirrings beyond sense - with a start, a bounce,

Stirs its ashes and embers, its burnt sticks

An eye powdered over, half melted and solid again

Ted Hughes Biography

Ted Hughes is consistently described as one of the twentieth century’s greatest English poets. Born August 17th, 1930 in Mytholmroyd, Yorkshire, his family moved to Mexborough when he was seven to run a newspaper and tobacco shop. He attended Mexborough grammar school, and wrote his first poems from the age of fifteen, some of which made their way into the school magazine. Before beginning English studies at Cambridge University (having won a scholarship in 1948), he spent much of his National service time reading and rereading all of Shakespeare. According to report, he could recite it all by heart. At Cambridge, he he 'spent most..time reading folklore and Yeat's poems,' and switched from English to Archaeology and Anthropology in his third year. His first published poem appeared in 1954, the year he graduated from Cambridge. He used two pseudonyms for the early publications, Daniel Hearing and Peter Crew. From 1955 to 1956, he worked as a rose gardener, night-watchman, zoo attendant, schoolteacher, and reader for J. Arthur Rank, and planned to teach in Spain then emigrate to Australia. February 26 saw the launch of the literary magazine, the St Botolph's Review, for which Hughes was one of six co-producers. It was also the day he met Sylvia Plath; they were married in four months. Hughe's first book of poems, Hawk in the Rain, was published in 1957 to immediate acclaim, winning the Harper publication contest. Over the next 41 years, he would write upwards of 90 books, and win numerous prizes and fellowships including the following (in that order): Harper publication contest, Guiness Poetry Award, Guggenheim fellowship, Somerset Maughan award, city of Florence International Poetry Prize, Premio Internazionale Taormina Prize, Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, OBE, vote for the best writing in English in the New Poetry Poll, Whitbread Book of the Year, W.H. Smith Literature award, Forward Prize for Poetry, Queen’s Order of Merit, T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry, South Bank Award for Literature, Whitbread Prize for Poetry, and the Whitbread Book of the Year again. In 1984, he was appointed England’s poet laureate. Hughes is what some have called a nature poet. A keen countryman and hunter from a young age, he viewed writing poems as a continuation of his earlier passion. ‘This is hunting and the poem is a new species of creature, a new specimen of the life outside your own.’ (Poetry in the Making , 1967) Hughes and Plath A strong indirect source of interest in the person of Hughes (aside from his poetry) is his seven-year marriage to the well-known American Poet, Sylvia Plath. Birthday Letters is a sequence of lyrics written by Hughes in the first year of their marriage, cast as a continued conversation with Plath. When Plath committed suicide in 1963 (they had separated in 1962), many held Hughes responsible for her death as a consequence of his adulterous relationship with Assia Wevill; recent biographies such as Elaine Feinstein’s Ted Hughes: The Life of a Poet have attempted to ‘set the record straight and clear the air of rancor and recrimination’ (Brooke Allen, The New York Times ). Though deeply marked by the loss, Hughes was publicly silent on the subject for more than 30 years out of his sense of responsibility to protect the couple's two young children, whose perceptions of their mother would have otherwise been impossibly spoiled by external interference. The publication of Birthday Letters has been seen as a 'retaking' of the histories that had been stolen from the family through the cracks in the armour. Quotes ‘Each image denotates another, so that the whole poem throbs’ – Edward Lucie Smith on Hughes’ poetry, British Poetry since 1945 ‘Imagine what you are writing about. See it and live it.’ –Ted Hughes, Poetry in the Making ‘You write interestingly only about the things that genuinely interest you. This is an infallible rule.. in writing, you have to be able to distinguish between those things about which you are merely curious –things you heard about last week or read about yesterday- and things which are a deep part of your life… So you say, ‘What part of my life would I die to be separated from?’ –Ted Hughes, Poetry in the Making ‘It is occasionally possible, just for brief moments, to find the words that will unlock the doors of all those many mansions in the head and express something – perhaps not much, just something – of the crush of information that presses in on us from the way a crow flies over and the way a man walks and the look of a street and from what we did one day a dozen years ago. Words that will express something of the deep complexity that makes us precisely the way we are.’-Ted Hughes, Poetry in the Making)

The Best Poem Of Ted Hughes


He loved her and she loved him.
His kisses sucked out her whole past and future or tried to
He had no other appetite
She bit him she gnawed him she sucked
She wanted him complete inside her
Safe and sure forever and ever
Their little cries fluttered into the curtains

Her eyes wanted nothing to get away
Her looks nailed down his hands his wrists his elbows
He gripped her hard so that life
Should not drag her from that moment
He wanted all future to cease
He wanted to topple with his arms round her
Off that moment's brink and into nothing
Or everlasting or whatever there was

Her embrace was an immense press
To print him into her bones
His smiles were the garrets of a fairy palace
Where the real world would never come
Her smiles were spider bites
So he would lie still till she felt hungry
His words were occupying armies
Her laughs were an assassin's attempts
His looks were bullets daggers of revenge
His glances were ghosts in the corner with horrible secrets
His whispers were whips and jackboots
Her kisses were lawyers steadily writing
His caresses were the last hooks of a castaway
Her love-tricks were the grinding of locks
And their deep cries crawled over the floors
Like an animal dragging a great trap
His promises were the surgeon's gag
Her promises took the top off his skull
She would get a brooch made of it
His vows pulled out all her sinews
He showed her how to make a love-knot
Her vows put his eyes in formalin
At the back of her secret drawer
Their screams stuck in the wall

Their heads fell apart into sleep like the two halves
Of a lopped melon, but love is hard to stop

In their entwined sleep they exchanged arms and legs
In their dreams their brains took each other hostage

In the morning they wore each other's face

Ted Hughes Comments

Meg Tapp 24 September 2011

'Lovesong' just became one of my favourite poems. So rarely do we come across poems that speak so truthfully and honestly. Beautiful. Can't believe I never knew of it until now!

140 159 Reply
Manju Shree 22 February 2010

It’s quite interesting that Hughes has chosen fox to trace the stirrings of poetical ideas in his mind. Fox is a sly animal, very slippery. Not to be caught easily. It always tries to hoodwink the hunters and other animals. It’s somewhat elusive. So is also the poetry. The poetical ideas appear dim, elusive in the beginning. But as the poet goes on giving it a thought the ideas get conceptualized and it’s captured permanently as poetry on the page.

133 151 Reply
Dhanya Rajan 16 November 2012

Bride and groom lie hidden for three days. My favorite Ted Hughes poem.

139 126 Reply
Paul Butters 11 October 2009

A great poet. Cannot access his poems here now however.

116 135 Reply
Tapas Bandyopadhaya 12 September 2006

Fabulous poem. I had dared to dream of a site where all poems would be of such a standard. But the democratic spirit of PoemHunter is also eminently admirable. However, Mary Angelou as the 2nd favourite poet after Neruda and Tagore coming at number 60 and Derek Walcott, I havent found him yet.

72 91 Reply
Dhrgani Dhrgani 09 June 2021

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0 0 Reply
milan 23 March 2020

amazing poems, Ted well done Your stories and poems are amazing

2 2 Reply
simonas 18 March 2020

I love the poems! ! !

2 2 Reply
Aroonima sinha 10 September 2019

The brother'dream by ted hughes

3 4 Reply
Michael Walker 28 July 2019

I like some of Hughes' poems, like 'Photograph', but not the ones about animals.

1 7 Reply

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