Ted Hughes   Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being.
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 524 pages, $35

reviewed by C. H. Sisson

Ted Hughes tells us in his foreword to this book that his “interest in the mythologies and folklores of the world” not only “long preceded” his interest in poetry, but “in a way” led him to poetry. The sequence must be unusual, not only in poets but in anyone for whom poetry has any real importance. To be alerted by words and rhythms in hopeless conjunction, before there is anything of the analytical apprehension which passes for understanding, must be the normal condition of a child still in the world of lullabies and nursery rhymes. An “interest in the mythologies and folklores of the world” suggests an epoch considerably beyond not only that, but beyond the time when he first feels the fascination of particular folktales which may...