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Lupercal

The Hawk in the Rain, Lupercal

hughes poems ‘the collection

a collection of poetry by Ted Hughes, published in 1960. The volume maintained the confidence and energy which had distinguished his first book, The Hawk in the Rain (1957), but displayed greater stylistic control and fluency across an increased thematic range; A1 Alvarez's statement that ‘Hughes has found his own voice … and has emerged as a poet of the first importance’ is indicative of the highly favourable critical response to Lupercal, which established Hughes as the most noteworthy of the younger poets of the day. Conventional modes of rhyme and metre, which Hughes later tended to eschew, are adapted with great accomplishment in numerous poems, most notably in the ‘Lupercalia’ sequence with which the collection concludes; Hughes's imaginative concern with the sustaining power of the vital principle is expressed with concentration and eloquence in the poem's narrative of ancient Roman fertility rites. Elsewhere, the volume is rich in his more characteristic imagery of wild natural surroundings: ‘November’, ‘Crow Hill’, and ‘Mayday on Holderness’ are among the poems in which precise local detail takes on considerable emotional and metaphorical force. Lupercal also contained a number of memorable poems celebrating the instinct for survival embodied in certain creatures, ‘the bullet and automatic | purpose’ central to much of Hughes's writing; these include ‘Pike’, ‘Thrushes’, ‘Hawk Roosting’, ‘Esther's Tomcat’, ‘The Bull Moses’, and ‘An Otter’, each of which is among Hughes's best-known works.

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