"A WATERSHED NOT ONLY IN HUGHES' CAREER BUT IN BRITISH POETRY": FIRST EDITION OF TED HUGHES' FIRST BOOK, THE HAWK IN THE RAIN
HUGHES, Ted. The Hawk in the Rain. London: Faber and Faber, (1957). Slim octavo, original blue cloth, original dust jacket. $1100.
First edition of Hughes first book—"these first poems of Hughes' are truly remarkable"—dedicated in print to his wife, poet Sylvia Plath.
Hawk in the Rain "remains one of Hughes' most important, and most accomplished, collections… These were the poems that established his reputation as a poet of elemental sensibilities whose stressed, alliterative cadences conjured a primeval world of strength and struggle… a watershed not only in Hughes' career, but in British poetry… Sylvia Plath's heady description of the book perhaps best captures the excitement with which she and Hughes embarked upon a campaign to create a new kind of modern poetry. It is, she wrote, a book 'at which to stare awestruck, read in wild reverence' [1957 letter]" (Heather Clark, Ted Hughes Society). When Plath learned of the New York Poetry Centre's First Publication Award, to be judged by Marianne Moore, Stephen Spender and W.H. Auden, she "typed up 40 of Hughes' poems and sent them off under the title The Hawk in the Rain. In the context of the poetry being written in 1957, these first poems of Hughes' are truly remarkable" (Feinstein, Ted Hughes, 68-9). When Hawk in the Rain won first prize, "Marianne Moore wrote: 'Hughes' talent is unmistakable'" and the work subsequently won the 1960 Somerset Maugham Award (ODNB). Hughes became Britain's Poet Laureate in 1984, holding that honor until his death in 2009. First edition published September 13, 1957, precedes the first American edition officially issued September 18, 1957. A University of California copy has been found with a penciled "8/27/57" date, suggesting "it is possible that bound copies were in circulation by this time" (Sagor & Tabor A1b). "The ordering of the poems differs between the U.S. (Harper) and Faber editions" (Keegan, ed., Collected Poems, 1241). Without Poetry Book Society bellyband. Sagor & Tabor A1.
Only tiny closed tears to seams of dust jacket. A beautiful copy in about-fine condition.