SEASON SONGS by Ted Hughes
Kirkus Star


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Ted Hughes would be the last writer to celebrate the seasons in pretty mood pieces, and this is an important book--so important that some people are bound to wonder why it's being published as a juvenile. The Season Songs are 24 substantial new poems--resilient, taut, bouncy--that use the calendar as a springboard. Thus in Spring we meet ""March Calf""--""ready for the worst, shut up in his hopeful religion, a little syllogism"". . . Summer brings ""Mackerel Song"" (""I sing his simple hunger. . ."") and a ""Harvest Moon"" that is ""a vast balloon, Till it takes off, and sinks upward to lie in the bottom of the sky"". . . in Autumn ""There came a day that caught the summer/ Wrung its neck/ Plucked it/ and ate it"". . . and Winter is a containment of opposites--""Such a frost/ The freezing moon/ Has lost its wits"" and ""The sweaty farmers/ Turn in their sleep/ Like oxen on spits."" This then is not the manic playfulness of Nessie the Monster and Meet My Folks but serious business though in a mellower mood than much of Hughes' work. He is said to have written these poems for his children, and often they sound like it (""Who's killed the leaves? Me, says the apple. . .) though the extended imagery, the vocabulary, the intensity of feeling in a poem such as ""Sheep,"" suffering through the death of a day old lamb and the trauma of shearing, makes no concessions. Nor do Baskin's full page drawings and watercolors scattered throughout; rather they seem to seize on the brooding, metaphysical side of these verses instead of their dominant tone of bracing, athletic optimism. . . but, fair enough, and you'll recognize here that monumental bird from the cover of Crow. It might take an unusual youngster to fully grasp what's going on here, but Season Songs is a wonderful gift to childhood all the same. . . as well as an event for Hughes' adult audience.

Pub Date: Oct. 6th, 1975
Page count: 80pp
Publisher: Viking