cover image Winter Pollen: Occasional Prose

Winter Pollen: Occasional Prose

Ted Hughes. Picador USA, $27.5 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-13625-3

Ted Hughes is familiar to American readers primarily as the husband of poet Sylvia Plath, not as the poet laureate of England. In this first collection of his prose, much of it previously published in various American and British journals, six of the 43 reviews, prefaces and critical essays directly engage Plath's work and life, over which he is known to be protective. He is suspicious of scholars, and the longer pieces, on such traditionally academic subjects as poetic meter and form, are written in his sonorous poet's voice, in prose that recalls T.S. Eliot's restrained irony and force of opinion. Hughes offers learned, unpretentious historical exegeses of Shakespeare, Greek Myth and the genre of Trickster Tales. He reads his fellow poets, such as Dylan Thomas, Emily Dickinson, Eliot and Plath with unfailing sympathy and intelligence, allowing us to glimpse the poets themselves through their work; his evident pleasure in them becomes our own. Scammell, a poet and critic himself, has arranged the volume thematically so that Hughes's incisive, comprehensive take on literature and poetics emerges fully, especially over the multiple readings these essays demand. (Oct.)