This edition of River: Poems by Ted Hughes reprints the revised 1993 text of River – as included in Three Books (1993) – and an appendix that includes poems from the original sequence which were omitted from the later volume.
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First published in 1983, River celebrates fluvial landscapes, their creatures and their regenerative powers.
Inspired by Hughes’s love of fishing and by his environmental activism, the poems are a deftly and passionately
attentive chronicle of change over the course of the seasons. West Country rivers predominate (‘The West Dart’
and ‘Torridge’), but other poems imagine or recall Japanese rivers or Celtic rivers, and ‘The Gulkana’ explores
an ancient Alaskan watercourse. At its core the sequence rehearses, in various settings, from winter to winter,
the life-cycle of the salmon.
All this, too, is stitched into the torn richness,
The epic poise
That holds him so steady in his wounds, so loyal to his doom,
In the machinery of heaven.
from ‘October Salmon’
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