"The Priestess", image from Ann Skea's website

"The Priestess", image from Ann Skea's website

"Birthday Letters: Poetry and Magic. An analysis of Ted Hughes' use of Tarot and Cabbala in Birthday Letters"

Author: Skea, Ann

Ongoing on-line publication since 2000; completed 2005

Ann Skea's Poetry and Magic evolved from the material collected in the context of her contribution to the Ted Hughes 2000 conference in Lyon. In this study, she explores Birthday Letters as a publication constructed according to cabbalistic principles.

You can read Ann's study in full at her site http://ann.skea.com.

1. Introduction

  • "Fulbright Scholars", "Caryatids (1)", "Caryatids (2)". includes The Path of the Hanged Man
  • MEM - "Fidelity", "Astringency", "The Rag Rug", "The Ventriloquist"


2. The Path of The Fool

  • ALEPH - "Fulbright Scholars", "Chaucer", "Isis", "Dreamers".


3. The Path of The Magician

  • BETH - "Caryatids (2)", "Ouija", "Ephiphany", "Fairy Tale".


4. The Path of The High Priestess

  • GIMEL - "Caryatids (1)", "The Earthenware Head", "The Gypsy", "The Blackbird".


5. The Path of The Empress

  • DALETH - "Visit", "Wuthering Heights", "A Dream", "Totem".


6. The Path of The Emperor

  • HE - "Sam", "The Chipmunk", "The Minotaur", "Robbing Myself".


7. The Path of The Hierophant

  • VAU - "The Tender Place", "Horoscope", "The Pan", "Blood and Innocence".


8. The Path of The Lovers

  • ZAIN - "St. Botolph's", "Flounders", "The Error", "Costly Speech".


9. The Path of The Chariot

  • CHETH - "The Shot", "The Blue Flannel Suit", "The Lodger", "The Inscription".


10. The Path of Justice

  • TETH - "Trophies", "Child's Park", "Daffodils", "Night Ride on Ariel".


11. The Path of The Hermit

  • YOD - "18 Rugby Street", "9 Willow Street", "The Afterbirth", "Telos".


12. The Path of The Wheel of Fortune

  • KAPH - "The Machine", "The Literary Life", "Setebos", "Brasilia".


13. The Path of Strength

  • LAMED - "God Help the Wolf after Whom the Dogs Do Not Bark", "The Bird", "A Short Film", "The Cast".


14. The Path of the Hanged Man

  • MEM - "Fidelity", "Astringency", "The Rag Rug", "The Ventriloquist".


15. The Path of Death

  • NUN - "Fate Playing", "The Badlands", "The Table", "Life after Death ".


16. The Path of Temperance

  • SAMEKH - "The Owl", "Fishing Bridge", "Apprehensions", "The Hands".


17. The Path of The Devil

  • A'AIN - "A Pink Wool Knitted Dress", "The 59th Bear , "Dream Life", "The Prism".


18. The Path of The Tower

  • PE - "Your Paris", "Grand Canyon", "Perfect Light", "The God".


19. The Path of The Star

  • TZADDI - "You Hated Spain", "Karlsbad Caverns", "The Rabbit Catcher", "Freedom of Speech".


20. The Path of The Moon

  • QOPH - "Moonwalk", "Black Coat", "Suttee", "A Picture of Otto".


21. The Path of The Sun

  • RESH - "Drawing", "Portraits", "The Bee God", "Fingers".


22. The Path of Judgment

  • SHIN - "Fever", "Stubbing Wharfe", "Being Christlike", "The Dogs Are Eating Your Mother".


23. The Path of The World

  • TAU - "55 Eltisley", "Remission", "The Beach", "Red".