Ted Hughes as Shepherd of Being

Author: Robinson, Craig

Published by Macmillan, 1989

[The following was kindly supplied by Carol Bere]

Craig Robinson's primary objective in his study is to graph the chronology of the major stages of Ted Hughes's "pursuit of a redefinition of human maturity in our time." Robinson explores Hughes's use (and rejection) of various accepted models of thought, and the progression, development, and variations of artistic strategies from the early collections of The Hawk in the Rain and Lupercal up to and including the nature and history works such as River and Remains of Elmet. Robinson places Hughes in the Romantic Blakean tradition, comments on the influences of Jung, and applies some of thinking of Martin Heidegger to his interpretations of Hughes's writing (with the caveat that he had found no evidence suggesting that Hughes had read Heidegger). Although there are many areas of difference between Heidegger and Hughes, Robinson notes strong similarities, particularly in their sense of the significance of thought and language: "Language, for him [Heidegger] as for Hughes, is not the closed circuit of mutually interrelated arbitrary signs of the linguistician — it is an ever-closing, but openable path to Being, the reality of what is." Overall, Robinson considers that Gaudete, Cave Birds, and Moortown are Hughes's greatest achievements, and devotes most of his study to detailed discussion of these sequences.

Part I
The Hawk in the Rain, "The Burning of the Brothel," and Lupercal

Part II
Wodwo, the Radio Plays, and Crow

Part III
An Approach to Gaudete
Cave Birds
: The Background and a Reading
The Moortown Sequences

Part IV
Nature and History: River, "The Head," Remains of Elmet, Flowers and Insects.  

Craig Robinson's contribution to The Achievement of Ted Hughes could be regarded as an additional chapter to this study.