A Short Analysis of Ted Hughes’s ‘Telegraph Wires’

‘Telegraph Wires’ belongs to Ted Hughes’s middle-late period, before the publication of Birthday Letters shortly before his death in 1998 but after his classic earlier work such as ‘The Thought-Fox’, Lupercal, ‘Snowdrop’, and, of course, Crow. Published in 1989 in his collection Wolfwatching, ‘Telegraph Wires’ requires some close textual analysis to untangle some of its language and imagery. (You can read ‘Telegraph Wires’ here.)

The title sounds decidedly unHughesian – telegraph wires put us more in mind of Stephen Spender’s pylons, perhaps, than the great Laureate of Darwinian nature. But nature is always there in a Ted Hughes poem, and so it is with ‘Telegraph Wires’. Immediately, we find ourselves among a ‘lonely moor’: it could almost be Wuthering Heights country, the landscape of Emily Brontë but also Sylvia Plath’s poem ‘Wuthering Heights’, as well as Hughes’s own homeland, of course (he grew up in Yorkshire).

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