Poems of Ted Hughes

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Fulbright Scholars
Where was it, in the Strand? A display
Of news items, in photographs.
For some reason I noticed it.
A picture of that year’s intake
Of Fulbright Scholars. Just arriving Or arrived. Or some of them.
Were you among them? I studied it.
Not too minutely, wondering
Which of them I might meet.
I remember that thought. Not
Your face. No doubt I scanned particularly
The girls. Maybe I noticed you.
Maybe I weighed you up, feeling unlikely.
Noted your long hair, loose waves Your Veronica Lake bang. Not what it hid.
It would appear blond. And your grin.
Your exaggerated American
Grin for the cameras, the judges, the strangers, the frighteners.
Then I forgot. Yet I remember
The picture: the Fulbright Scholars.
With their luggage? It seems unlikely.
Could they have come as a team? I was walking
Sore-footed, under hot sun, hot pavements.
Was it then I bought a peach? That’s as I remember
From a stall near Charing Cross Station.
It was the first fresh peach I had ever tasted.
I could hardly believe how delicious.
At twenty-five I was dumbfounded afresh
By my ignorance of the simplest things.

The Shot
Your worship needed a god.
Where it lacked one, it found one.
Ordinary jocks became gods –
Deified by your infatuation
That seemed to have been designed at birth for a god.
It was a god-seeker. A god-finder.
Your Daddy had been aiming you at God
When his death touched the trigger.
In that flash
You saw your whole life. You richocheted
The length of your Alpha career
With the fury
Of a high-velocity bullet
That cannot shed one foot-pound
Of kinetic energy. The elect
More or less died on impact –
They were too mortal to take it. They were mind-stuff,
Provisional, speculative, mere auras.
Sound-barrier events along your flightpath.
But inside your sob-sodden Kleenex
And your Saturday night panics,
Under your hair done this way and that way,
Behind what looked like rebounds
And the cascade of cries diminuendo,
You

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