Hughes' relationship with nature is so central to his work that every book on him has discussed it. However, because of the larger scope of all these books, this discussion has remained at a fairly superficial level. Here Keith Sagar tries to take it onto a deeper level by relating it to paganism and Christianity, myth, Greek tragedy, Shakespeare, and the whole tradition of nature poetry in English, to Hughes' particular canon of revered poets, to his wider reading and the shaping events of his life. He traces Hughes' painful journey from terror in the face of nature in his first three collections, through the transitional works from Crow to Cave Birds, to the transformation in Moortown and Remains of Elmet, culminating in the exultation of River. He argues that these three collections constitute the apex of Hughes' achievement, and are among the great works of world literature.
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