Robert Nye

New Selected Spells by the Royal Witch Doctor

New Selected Poems 1957-1994


Faber & Faber 332pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

There is a satire by Vernon Scannell in which he considers a cow busy chewing the cud and wonders what is going on in its head. Can the creature be contemplating the composition of ‘a long poem about Ted Hughes’? The point of Scannell’s little joke is, of course, that for a while in the Sixties and Seventies, under the spell of Hughes’s early work, it was fashionable to write poems about animals which imagine those animals from, as it were, the inside. The most famous model was perhaps ‘Hawk Roosting’, from his Second volume Lupercal (1960):

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.

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