The nature of Englishness
the hybrid poetics of Ted Hughes
"Strawberry Hill" tries to imagine a suppressed wildness at the heart of English, and Englishness, equally expressed—the poem seems to argue—by a Restoration stoat dancing on the lawns of Horace Walpole's villa, and the slang of black immigrants in contemporary Brixton. Overkeen to press its point home, there's a moment where the poem's failure to do so acknowledges a cultural diversity resisting of Hughes's method. This is true, too, of "Shibboleth", a neglected lyric from Capriccio (1990), and this essay moves from one to the other, also considering Hughes on race, and nationality, elsewhere.
Ravinthiran, V. (2018)., The nature of Englishness: the hybrid poetics of Ted Hughes, in N. Roberts, M. Wormald & T. Gifford (eds.), Ted Hughes, nature and culture, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 107-123.
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