Ted Hughes Collected in a Squall. Hay, 1996

Now that the wind’s dropped again

I find myself thinking of Ted Hughes,

his big pale face bent, the sweat running down

from his streaked hair, dripping on to his open

book of verses, down over his long probe of a nose


under a dangerously swaying array of crazed stage lights, chains rattling,

with that vast marquee swelling in a Welsh squall,

swelling then sucking like bellows at his last Hay Festival.

Dying, he clung to his lectern, shouting


like Captain Ahab at the wheel, daring anyone to jump ship,

run for shelter.

Nobody moved, how could we in that welter

of wind and words? We could not choose but hear

you, you bloody-minded Ancient Mariner!