Poetry by Ted Hughes

Selected Poems (with Thom Gunn) (London: Faber and Faber, 1963)/ Selected Poems: 1957-1967 (London: Faber and Faber, 1972)/Selected Poems: 1957-1981 (London: Faber and Faber, 1982)/New Selected Poems: 1957-1994 (London: Faber and Faber, 1995)/Collected Poems, ed. Paul Keegan (London: Faber and Faber, 2003)

Edward Hadley (Open University, UK) offers a brief account of Hughes's selected and collected poems.

There exist four volumes of selected poems and a single collected poems of Hughes's works.

The first selection unusually presents poetry by both Hughes and Thom Gunn. At the time of publication, both poets had a limited range of poems to choose from but Faber was keen to capitalise on the success of these emerging talents. The second,Selected Poems: 1957-1967, presents poems from Hughes's poems alone, from his first three collections of verse.

The inclusion of 'You Hated Spain' in Selected Poems: 1957-1981 and a number of poems in Selected Poems: 1957-1994 alluding to Hughes's relationship with Plath went largely unnoticed and would later appear in Birthday Letters. It provides evidence of the gestation period of these poems. Here is Hughes fielding his poems in public, as if testing the water for what would later become Birthday Letters.

Collected Poems contains all of Hughes's poems from trade editions (with the disappointing omission of Gaudete, including only its 'epilogue' poems), a great number of uncollected poems and also makes available verse previously contained within limited editions of Hughes's works. Paul Keegan's task in compiling Hughes's poems should not be underestimated. The many revisions Hughes undertook of his own work complicates where some poems should be grouped, and as Keegan alludes to, the Collected Poems is only representative given the quantity of manuscripts and unpublished poems which remain to be seen. Keegan's notes on the publication history of Hughes's poems makes for fascinating reading and a valuable resource for any Hughes scholar.

For Hughes's Selected Translations, see 'Translations' under the 'Ted Hughes'.

Edward Hadley teaches for the Open University and is the author of The Elegies of Ted Hughes, he is also a course developer in Modern Poetry for SIM University, Singapore. His next book, Andrew Motion: A Critical Study, is to be published by Liverpool University Press..