Saws. Sooths and Sayings of Ted Hughes

Roy Davids

Ted Hughes loved the compacted wisdom contained in pithy statements. He had a great store of them in his head and would wheel them out both verbally and in writing. Here are some that he added by hand to my copy of The Rattle Bag. I suggest that readers who have others used by Ted send them to this website and Claas will add them to this treasury below, noting who contributed them:

[Note: For ease of reference, this list is in alphabetical order – so you will find sayings beginning with »the« under T below, etc., CK]

A

An old love is soon rekindled, / but a new one strangles the devil.
(contributed by Roy Davids)

At wit’s end is God.
(contributed by Roy Davids)

B

Before us stands yesterday.
(contributed by Roy Davids)

E

Every new child is nature's chance to correct culture's error. (Myth and Education. 1976)
(contributed by Roy Davids)

F

For the rose the thorn is watered.
(contributed by Roy Davids)

Four horses cannot overtake the tongue.
(contributed by Roy Davids)

H

Hair by hair you may pluck a tiger bald.
(contributed by Roy Davids)

I

If the daughter you would win / With the mother you must begin.
(contributed by Roy Davids)

If you have two loaves, sell one and buy a flower.
(contributed by Roy Davids)

K

Knaves and foul weather come out of the North.
(contributed by Roy Davids)

M

March yeans the lammie, / And buds the thorn, / And blaws through the flint / Of the Ox’s horn.
(contributed by Roy Davids)

O

Only an owl knows the worth of an owl.
(contributed by Roy Davids)

R

Rest, rust.
(contributed by Roy Davids)

T

The eyes of a dead father are large.
(contributed by Roy Davids)

The kick of a camel is soft but stunning.
(contributed by Roy Davids)

The softest things overcome the hardest.
(contributed by Roy Davids)

The tongue breaks the skull.
(contributed by Roy Davids)

The year does nothing but open and shut.
(contributed by Roy Davids)

W

Wedding and ill-wintering tames both man and beast.
(contributed by Roy Davids)

Wherever you go,- go with your whole heart. If you can’t go with your whole heart, don’t go.  (Letter to Seamus Heaney, 28 November 1991)
(contributed by Roy Davids)

Where Satan can’t get, he sends the old woman.
(contributed by Roy Davids)

Y

You have to walk on earth, even if it’s red hot.
(contributed by Roy Davids)