Now that I live adjacent to farm country, I picked up Ted Hughes Moortown, sometimes called Moortown Diary, to see if reading it again in a land of sheep, lambs, cows and calves would give the poems added resonance.
Hughes must be Hughes, of course, and his farm life is anything but idealized pastoral. Lambs are stillborn, stuck in the birth canal, and their heads must be removed to dislodge the body from the mother. A calf born without strength or will to live is taken in human hands, but no amount of nurturing can save it.
In this cycle of poems, nature is nature, whether domestic or not. Hughes sees life and death separated by the thinnest of edges; when we see prancing lambs in a field, he sees a struggle for survival as wild as that on the Serengeti.
Death lurks in Moortown. It actually lurks everywhere, but we are not as fine-tuned as Hughes to its hues and shades. We ignore its blossoming shadow.