Known (with Philip Larkin) as the most distinctly English of the postwar British poets, Ted Hughes was a boundlessly curious reader and translator of poetry from other languages. This generous selection of his translations at once rounds out the publication of his major work and gives us a fresh view of his poetic achievement.
In 1965, Hughes, already famous in Britain, founded the journal Modern Poetry in Translation, and a number of the translations here are of poems by his contemporaries: the Israeli Yehuda Amichai, the Hungarian János Pilinszky, and the Serbian Vasko Popa. At the same time, Hughes was forever in search of older precursors, whether Homer, Lorenzo de’ Medici, or the authors of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and his translations of them deepen our sense of his interest in pagan ritual and esoteric religion. These two strains of his work as translator were brought together late in his career, establishing him as one of the foremost interpreters of the classics in English.