Selected Poems 1957-1994

Ted Hughes

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

352 Pages



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This selection of Hughes's poetry, made by the author himself in 1995, fully spans his brilliant, highly influential 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 a rural chronicler and a form-breaking modern artist. Selected Poems 1957-1994 also includes previously uncollected pieces and eight poems later incorporated into Hughes's celebrated Birthday Letters, a meditation in verse on his marriage to Sylvia Plath, which became an international bestseller the year after his death.


Praise for Selected Poems 1957-1994

"[Hughes] was a great man and a great poet because of his wholeness and his simplicity and his unfaltering truth to his own sense of the world . . . [His] poems were essentially reminders that we are all part of the same fabric."—Seamus Heaney

"Ted Hughes, who died at 68, was as deserving a poet laureate as England had chosen. From the outset he showed an overwhelming vitality. He wrote or translated or edited some 40 books during his lifetime, books of verse, of translation, of essays, as well as books for children . . . Hughes as a student had taken up anthropology, not literature, and he chose to meditate his way into trancelike states of pre-consciousness before committing poems to paper. His poems, early or late, enter into the relations of living creatures; they move in close to animal consciousness . . . While inhabiting the bodies of creatures, mostly male, Hughes clambers back down the evolutionary chain. He searches deep into the riddles of language, too, those that precede any given tongue, language that reeks of the forest or even the jungle . . . Only in Selected Poems, 1957-1994 does Hughes's imagination disclose a sensitivity that the poet had lacked or been constrained from uttering over all the earlier years: knowledge of the hearts of women. Not only does the final section include a group of eight poems relating to Sylvia Plath that he would include in Birthday Letters; but Selected Poems gives us eight more that evidently plumb the soul of Assia Wevill, the woman who broke the marriage up and later committed suicide in her turn. I find these poems, notably the Assia poems, among the most remarkable work of Hughes's late years, though in their alertness to the processes of self-destruction they are of a piece with the body of his poetry. Auden said of most major poets that their work goes on changing all their lives long, and to my mind Selected Poems, 1957-1994 proves the point. Hughes in his late years articulated more and more about women, about the family and its discontents, about the harrowing and murderous dramas explored in myths like those of Aeschylus, Euripides, Ovid, and Racine."—Peter Davidson, The New York Times Book Review

"Whether he wrote poems about the farm, or wild birds and animals, or birthday masques for Royal occasions, Hughes had the same spontaneity of craft which came from some inner joy in the ceremonial powers of poetry."—John Bayley, The Times Literary Supplement

Bardo Thodol (The Tibetan Book of the Dead) [1960]
Homer [1961]
Mario de Sa Carneiro [1962/3]
Helder Macedo [1962/3]
Ferenc Juhasz [1965/6]
Yves Bonnefoy [1967]
Paul Eluard [1960s?]
Yehuda Amichai [from 1968]
Seneca [1967/8]
Orghast [1971]
Georges Schehade [1974]
Janos Pilinszky [1975-7]
Marin Sorescu [1987]
Camillo Pennati [1990]
Lorenzo de' Medici [1992/3]
Ovid [1994]
Frank Wedekind [1995]
Aeschylus [1995]
Federico Garcia Lorca [1996]
Anonymous (The Pearl Poet) [1997]
Abdulah Sidran [1998]
Jean Racine [1998]
Euripides [1998]
Alexander Pushkin [1999]

Ted Hughes on translation
Bardo Thodol
Mario de Sa Carneiro
Helder Macedo
Ferenc Juhasz
Yehuda Amichai
Janos Pilinszky
Marin Sorescu
Camillo Pennati
Lorenzo de' Medici
Abdulah Sidran
Alexander Pushkin

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Ted Hughes

  • The British poet, translator, author, and critic Ted Hughes, born in 1930, wrote more than forty books, including, in the last decade of his life, Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being; Tales from Ovid; verse adaptations of Aeschylus's Oresteia, Racine's Phèdre, and Euripedes' Alcestis; and the bestselling Birthday Letters. Hughes served as Poet Laureate to Queen Elizabeth II from 1984 until his death in 1998.