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Best Famous Ted Hughes Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Ted Hughes poems. This is a select list of the best famous Ted Hughes poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Ted Hughes poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of ted hughes poems.

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Written by Ted Hughes |

The Harvest Moon

The flame-red moon, the harvest moon,
Rolls along the hills, gently bouncing,
A vast balloon,
Till it takes off, and sinks upward
To lie on the bottom of the sky, like a gold doubloon.
The harvest moon has come, Booming softly through heaven, like a bassoon.
And the earth replies all night, like a deep drum.
So people can't sleep, So they go out where elms and oak trees keep A kneeling vigil, in a religious hush.
The harvest moon has come! And all the moonlit cows and all the sheep Stare up at her petrified, while she swells Filling heaven, as if red hot, and sailing Closer and closer like the end of the world.
Till the gold fields of stiff wheat Cry `We are ripe, reap us!' and the rivers Sweat from the melting hills.

Written by Ted Hughes |

The Owl

 When cats run home and light is come,
And dew is cold upon the ground,
And the far-off stream is dumb,
And the whirring sail goes round,
And the whirring sail goes round;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.
When merry milkmaids click the latch, And rarely smells the new-mown hay, And the cock hath sung beneath the thatch Twice or thrice his roundelay, Twice or thrice his roundelay; Alone and warming his five wits, The white owl in the belfry sits.

Written by Ted Hughes |

Crow and the Sea

He tried ignoring the sea 
But it was bigger than death, just as it was bigger than life.
He tried talking to the sea But his brain shuttered and his eyes winced from it as from open flame.
He tried sympathy for the sea But it shouldered him off - as a dead thing shoulders you off.
He tried hating the sea But instantly felt like a scrutty dry rabbit-dropping on the windy cliff.
He tried just being in the same world as the sea But his lungs were not deep enough And his cheery blood banged off it Like a water-drop off a hot stove.
Finally He turned his back and he marched away from the sea As a crucified man cannot move.

More great poems below...

Written by Ted Hughes |


 He loved her and she loved him
His kisses sucked out her whole past and future or tried to
He had no other appetite
She bit him she gnawed him she sucked
She wanted him complete inside her
Safe and Sure forever and ever
Their little cries fluttered into the curtains

Her eyes wanted nothing to get away
Her looks nailed down his hands his wrists his elbows
He gripped her hard so that life
Should not drag her from that moment
He wanted all future to cease
He wanted to topple with his arms round her
Or everlasting or whatever there was
Her embrace was an immense press
To print him into her bones
His smiles were the garrets of a fairy place
Where the real world would never come
Her smiles were spider bites
So he would lie still till she felt hungry
His word were occupying armies
Her laughs were an assasin's attempts
His looks were bullets daggers of revenge
Her glances were ghosts in the corner with horrible secrets
His whispers were whips and jackboots
Her kisses were lawyers steadily writing
His caresses were the last hooks of a castaway 
Her love-tricks were the grinding of locks
And their deep cries crawled over the floors
Like an animal dragging a great trap
His promises were the surgeon's gag
Her promises took the top off his skull
She would get a brooch made of it
His vows pulled out all her sinews 
He showed her how to make a love-knot
At the back of her secret drawer
Their screams stuck in the wall
Their heads fell apart into sleep like the two halves
Of a lopped melon, but love is hard to stop

In their entwined sleep they exchanged arms and legs
In their dreams their brains took each other hostage

In the morning they wore each other's face

Written by Ted Hughes |

Crow and Mama

When Crow cried his mother's ear 
Scorched to a stump.
When he laughed she wept Blood her breasts her palms her brow all wept blood.
He tried a step, then a step, and again a step - Every one scarred her face for ever.
When he burst out in rage She fell back with an awful gash and a fearful cry.
When he stopped she closed on him like a book On a bookmark, he had to get going.
He jumped into the car the towrope Was around her neck he jumped out.
He jumped into the plane but her body was jammed in the jet - There was a great row, the flight was cancelled.
He jumped into the rocket and its trajectory Drilled clean through her heart he kept on And it was cosy in the rocket, he could not see much But he peered out through the portholes at Creation And saw the stars millions of miles away And saw the future and the universe Opening and opening And kept on and slept and at last Crashed on the moon awoke and crawled out Under his mother's buttocks.

Written by Ted Hughes |

Crow Goes Hunting

Decided to try words.
He imagined some words for the job, a lovely pack- Clear-eyed, resounding, well-trained, With strong teeth.
You could not find a better bred lot.
He pointed out the hare and away went the words Resounding.
Crow was Crow without fail, but what is a hare? It converted itself to a concrete bunker.
The words circled protesting, resounding.
Crow turned the words into bombs-they blasted the bunker.
The bits of bunker flew up-a flock of starlings.
Crow turned the words into shotguns, they shot down the starlings.
The falling starlings turned to a cloudburst.
Crow turned the words into a reservoir, collecting the water.
The water turned into an earthquake, swallowing the reservoir.
The earthquake turned into a hare and leaped for the hill Having eaten Crow's words.
Crow gazed after the bounding hare Speechless with admiration.

Written by Ted Hughes |


 The tractor stands frozen - an agony
To think of.
All night Snow packed its open entrails.
Now a head-pincering gale, A spill of molten ice, smoking snow, Pours into its steel.
At white heat of numbness it stands In the aimed hosing of ground-level fieriness.
It defied flesh and won't start.
Hands are like wounds already Inside armour gloves, and feet are unbelievable As if the toe-nails were all just torn off.
I stare at it in hatred.
Beyond it The copse hisses - capitulates miserably In the fleeing, failing light.
Starlings, A dirtier sleetier snow, blow smokily, unendingly, over Towards plantations Eastward.
All the time the tractor is sinking Through the degrees, deepening Into its hell of ice.
The starting lever Cracks its action, like a snapping knuckle.
The battery is alive - but like a lamb Trying to nudge its solid-frozen mother - While the seat claims my buttock-bones, bites With the space-cold of earth, which it has joined In one solid lump.
I squirt commercial sure-fire Down the black throat - it just coughs.
It ridicules me - a trap of iron stupidity I've stepped into.
I drive the battery As if I were hammering and hammering The frozen arrangement to pieces with a hammer And it jabbers laughing pain-crying mockingly Into happy life.
And stands Shuddering itself full of heat, seeming to enlarge slowly Like a demon demonstrating A more-than-usually-complete materialization - Suddenly it jerks from its solidarity With the concrete, and lurches towards a stanchion Bursting with superhuman well-being and abandon Shouting Where Where? Worse iron is waiting.
Power-lift kneels Levers awake imprisoned deadweight, Shackle-pins bedded in cast-iron cow-shit.
The blind and vibrating condemned obedience Of iron to the cruelty of iron, Wheels screeched out of their night-locks - Fingers Among the tormented Tonnage and burning of iron Eyes Weeping in the wind of chloroform And the tractor, streaming with sweat, Raging and trembling and rejoicing.

Written by Ted Hughes |

Work and Play

 The swallow of summer, she toils all the summer,
A blue-dark knot of glittering voltage,
A whiplash swimmer, a fish of the air.
But the serpent of cars that crawls through the dust In shimmering exhaust Searching to slake Its fever in ocean Will play and be idle or else it will bust.
The swallow of summer, the barbed harpoon, She flings from the furnace, a rainbow of purples, Dips her glow in the pond and is perfect.
But the serpent of cars that collapsed on the beach Disgorges its organs A scamper of colours Which roll like tomatoes Nude as tomatoes With sand in their creases To cringe in the sparkle of rollers and screech.
The swallow of summer, the seamstress of summer, She scissors the blue into shapes and she sews it, She draws a long thread and she knots it at the corners.
But the holiday people Are laid out like wounded Flat as in ovens Roasting and basting With faces of torment as space burns them blue Their heads are transistors Their teeth grit on sand grains Their lost kids are squalling While man-eating flies Jab electric shock needles but what can they do? They can climb in their cars with raw bodies, raw faces And start up the serpent And headache it homeward A car full of squabbles And sobbing and stickiness With sand in their crannies Inhaling petroleum That pours from the foxgloves While the evening swallow The swallow of summer, cartwheeling through crimson, Touches the honey-slow river and turning Returns to the hand stretched from under the eaves - A boomerang of rejoicing shadow.

Written by Ted Hughes |

Apple Tragedy

So on the seventh day
The serpent rested, 
God came up to him.
"I've invented a new game," he said.
The serpent stared in surprise At this interloper.
But God said: "You see this apple?" I squeeze it and look-cider.
" The serpent had a good drink And curled up into a question mark.
Adam drank and said: "Be my god.
" Eve drank and opened her legs And called to the cockeyed serpent And gave him a wild time.
God ran and told Adam Who in drunken rage tried to hang himself in the orchard.
The serpent tried to explain, crying "Stop" But drink was splitting his syllable.
And Eve started screeching: "Rape! Rape!" And stamping on his head.
Now whenever the snake appears she screeches "Here it comes again! Help! O Help!" Then Adam smashes a chair on his head, And God says: "I am well pleased" And everything goes to hell.

Written by Ted Hughes |

Hawk Roosting

I sit in the top of the wood, my eyes closed.
Inaction, no falsifying dream Between my hooked head and hooked feet: Or in sleep rehearse perfect kills and eat.
The convenience of the high trees! The air's buoyancy and the sun's ray Are of advantage to me; And the earth's face upward for my inspection.
My feet are locked upon the rough bark.
It took the whole of Creation To produce my foot, my each feather: Now I hold Creation in my foot Or fly up, and revolve it all slowly - I kill where I please because it is all mine.
There is no sophistry in my body: My manners are tearing off heads - The allotment of death.
For the one path of my flight is direct Through the bones of the living.
No arguments assert my right: The sun is behind me.
Nothing has changed since I began.
My eye has permitted no change.
I am going to keep things like this.

Written by Ted Hughes |

How To Paint A Water Lily

 To Paint a Water Lily

A green level of lily leaves
Roofs the pond's chamber and paves

The flies' furious arena: study
These, the two minds of this lady.
First observe the air's dragonfly That eats meat, that bullets by Or stands in space to take aim; Others as dangerous comb the hum Under the trees.
There are battle-shouts And death-cries everywhere hereabouts But inaudible, so the eyes praise To see the colours of these flies Rainbow their arcs, spark, or settle Cooling like beads of molten metal Through the spectrum.
Think what worse is the pond-bed's matter of course; Prehistoric bedragoned times Crawl that darkness with Latin names, Have evolved no improvements there, Jaws for heads, the set stare, Ignorant of age as of hour— Now paint the long-necked lily-flower Which, deep in both worlds, can be still As a painting, trembling hardly at all Though the dragonfly alight, Whatever horror nudge her root.

Written by Ted Hughes |

Crow Blacker than ever

When God, disgusted with man, 
Turned towards heaven.
And man, disgusted with God, Turned towards Eve, Things looked like falling apart.
But Crow .
Crow Crow nailed them together, Nailing Heaven and earth together - So man cried, but with God's voice.
And God bled, but with man's blood.
Then heaven and earth creaked at the joint Which became gangrenous and stank - A horror beyond redemption.
The agony did not diminish.
Man could not be man nor God God.
The agony Grew.
Crow Grinned Crying: 'This is my Creation,' Flying the black flag of himself.

Written by Ted Hughes |

The Warm and the Cold

 Freezing dusk is closing
 Like a slow trap of steel
On trees and roads and hills and all
 That can no longer feel.
But the carp is in its depth Like a planet in its heaven.
And the badger in its bedding Like a loaf in the oven.
And the butterfly in its mummy Like a viol in its case.
And the owl in its feathers Like a doll in its lace.
Freezing dusk has tightened Like a nut screwed tight On the starry aeroplane Of the soaring night.
But the trout is in its hole Like a chuckle in a sleeper.
The hare strays down the highway Like a root going deeper.
The snail is dry in the outhouse Like a seed in a sunflower.
The owl is pale on the gatepost Like a clock on its tower.
Moonlight freezes the shaggy world Like a mammoth of ice - The past and the future Are the jaws of a steel vice.
But the cod is in the tide-rip Like a key in a purse.
The deer are on the bare-blown hill Like smiles on a nurse.
The flies are behind the plaster Like the lost score of a jig.
Sparrows are in the ivy-clump Like money in a pig.
Such a frost The flimsy moon Has lost her wits.
A star falls.
The sweating farmers Turn in their sleep Like oxen on spits.

Written by Ted Hughes |

The Owl

 I saw my world again through your eyes
As I would see it again through your children's eyes.
Through your eyes it was foreign.
Plain hedge hawthorns were peculiar aliens, A mystery of peculiar lore and doings.
Anything wild, on legs, in your eyes Emerged at a point of exclamation As if it had appeared to dinner guests In the middle of the table.
Common mallards Were artefacts of some unearthliness, Their wooings were a hypnagogic film Unreeled by the river.
Impossible To comprehend the comfort of their feet In the freezing water.
You were a camera Recording reflections you could not fathom.
I made my world perform its utmost for you.
You took it all in with an incredulous joy Like a mother handed her new baby By the midwife.
Your frenzy made me giddy.
It woke up my dumb, ecstatic boyhood Of fifteen years before.
My masterpiece Came that black night on the Grantchester road.
I sucked the throaty thin woe of a rabbit Out of my wetted knuckle, by a copse Where a tawny owl was enquiring.
Suddenly it swooped up, splaying its pinions Into my face, taking me for a post.

Written by Ted Hughes |


 Against the rubber tongues of cows and the hoeing hands of men
Thistles spike the summer air
And crackle open under a blue-black pressure.
Every one a revengeful burst Of resurrection, a grasphed fistful Of splintered weapons and Icelandic frost thrust up From the underground stain of a decayed Viking.
They are like pale hair and the gutturals of dialects.
Every one manages a plume of blood.
Then they grow grey like men.
Mown down, it is a feud.
Their sons appear Stiff with weapons, fighting back over the same ground.