Introduction

Ted Hughes was an English poet whose most characteristic verse is without sentimentality, emphasizing the cunning and savagery of animal life in harsh, sometimes disjunctive lines.

[Encyclopaedia Britannica]

Ted Hughes edited and selected work for many published works, and he also wrote extensively for children. His name is hardly ever mentioned without mention of his wife Sylvia Plath, who committed suicide while estranged from Hughes in 1963. He was appointed Britain's Poet Laureate in 1984, and held the position until his death in 1998.

Thistles


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 grasped 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.

 

globe thistle

globe thistle. [Photograph]. In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from http://school.eb.com.au/levels/high/article/72151/media?assemblyId=8410