Ted Hughes and the River

There is an interesting piece in Granta magazine on a previously unpublished letter from Ted Hughes. You can read the whole article if you click here. The letter is introduced by Simon Armitage who suggests that the instructive tone of the letter is similar to that Hughes used in his book  for teachers ‘Poetry in the Making’. Here is a quote from it which I found particularly interesting. The Hughes poem ‘Pike’ was one of the few poems I enjoyed  at school,  if ‘enjoyed’ is the right word, as I remember being somewhat chilled by the menace of the poem.

‘  At one point in the book, he suggests that without the right techniques for accessing ideas the imagination will languish like a fish in the pond of someone who doesn’t know how to fish.  In fact if the word ‘fish’ in this letter is substituted for the word ‘poem’, we have a rather interesting extended metaphor on the nature of poetic composition.  Given the number of poems Hughes wrote in his life and the number of days he evidently spent fishing, there must presumably be some correlation between the two, and a picture emerges of Hughes reeling in as many poems from those Devon rivers as he did salmon or trout.’


  1. Interesting to see at the bottom of his letter “Michael Morpurgo, Hathersleigh 369”, listed as the owner of Nethercott fishing. I stayed, by chance, at the pub in Iddersleigh on a cycle ride out from Exeter last year, where I learnt that Hughes and Morpurgo were friends.

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