Ted Hughes: <em>Moortown</em> (1979)

Ted Hughes: Moortown (1979)

Ted Hughes: &raquo;Four Tales told by an Idiot&laquo; (1979)

Ted Hughes: »Four Tales told by an Idiot« (1979)


Author: Hughes, Ted

Published by Faber & Faber, 1979
US ed.: Harper & Row, 1980

Moortown collects several (semi-)independent projects and several uncollected poems into one volume. The book is frequently confused with Moortown Diary, which collects only the 'farming poems'.

Many of the poems in Moortown had been published previously only in limited editions. The major sequences of poems making this volume are:

  • Moortown Elegies contains the poems also collected in Moortown Diary (see also Moortown Elegies (ltd. ed.) and Moortown Diary),
  • Prometheus on His Crag (minus three poems appearing in the ltd. ed.),
  • Earth-Numb,
  • Four Tales Told by an Idiot,
  • Actaeon,
  • Seven Dungeon Songs,
  • Orts, and
  • Adam and the Sacred Nine (minus five poems appearing in the ltd. ed.).

The focus ranges from the farming poems from Hughes's "verse diary" to the transcendental, symbolically dense poems of Adam and the Sacred Nine, loosely based on Attar's Conference of the Birds.  

See also Ted Hughes and R. S. Thomas (audio tape) and Ted Hughes & Paul Muldoon (audio tape).



  • Rain
  • Dehorning
  • Poor birds
  • Struggle
  • Feeding out-wintering cattle at twilight
  • Foxhunt
  • New Year exhilaration
  • Snow smoking as the fields boil
  • Bringing in new couples
  • Tractor
  • Roe-deer
  • Couples under cover
  • Surprise
  • Last night
  • Ravens
  • February 17th
  • March morning unlike others
  • Turning out
  • She has come to pass
  • Birth of Rainbow
  • Orf
  • Happy calf
  • Coming down through Somerset
  • Little red twin
  • Teaching a dumb calf
  • Last load
  • While she chews sideways
  • Sheep, i–ii
  • A monument
  • A memory
  • The day he died
  • Now you have to push
  • The formal auctioneer
  • Hands

Prometheus on His Crag

  1. His voice felt out the way. 'I am' he said
  2. Prometheus ... Relaxes
  3. Prometheus ... Pestered by birds roosting and defecating
  4. Prometheus ... Spotted the vulture coming out of the sun
  5. Prometheus ... Dreamed he had burst the sun's mass
  6. Prometheus ... Has bitten his prophetic tongue off
  7. Prometheus ... Arrested half-way from heaven
  8. Prometheus ... Lay astonished all his preparations
  9. Now I know I never shall
  10. Prometheus ... Began to admire the vulture
  11. Prometheus ... Tried to recall his night's dream
  12. Prometheus ... Had begun to sing
  13. Prometheus ... Heard the cry of the wombs
  14. Prometheus ... Sees the wind
  15. Prometheus ... Had such an advantageous prospect
  16. Prometheus ... Too far from his people to tell them
  17. No God – only wind on the flower
  18. The character neglected in this icon
  19. Prometheus ... Shouts and his words
  20. Prometheus ... Pondered the vulture. Was this bird
  21. His mother covers her eyes



  • Earth-Numb
  • That girl
  • Here is the Cathedral
  • Postcard from Torquay
  • Old Age gets Up
  • Nefertiti
  • A motorbike
  • Deaf school
  • Photostomias, I–III
  • The lovepet
  • Second birth
  • Song of longsight
  • Life is trying to be life
  • A citrine glimpse, I–II
  • Four Tales Told By An Idiot
  1. I woke in the bed of the Rains
  2. I was tied to a stake, in a tectite desert
  3. Night-wind, a freedom
  4. That star
  • Actaeon [this is sometimes considered to be a Crow poem]
  • Seven Dungeon Songs
  1. The Wolf
  2. Dead, she became space-earth
  3. Face was necessary – I found face
  4. The earth locked out the light
  5. I walk
  6. The oracle
  7. If mouth could open its cliff
  • A Knock at the Door


  1. Each new moment my eyes
  2. Are they children
  3. For weights of blood
  4. Heatwave
  5. In the M5 restaurant
  6. Poets
  7. Grosse Fuge
  8. Lucretia
  9. The Cathedral
  10. Pan
  11. Speech out of shadow
  12. Everything is waiting
  13. Night arrival of Sea-trout
  14. Flight from Egypt
  15. Beeches, leafless
  16. Look back
  17. Buzz in the Window
  18. Lumb
  19. The express
  20. T. V. off
  21. Ophiuchos
  22. Funeral
  23. Children [this is sometimes considered to be a Crow poem]
  24. Prospero and Sycorax [this is sometimes considered to be a Crow poem]
  25. Before-dawn twilight, a sky dry as talc

  • Tiger-psalm [this is sometimes considered to be a Crow poem]
  • The stone
  • Stained Glass
  1. The Virgin
  2. The Womb
  3. The Virgin Knight

  • A God

Adam and the Sacred Nine

  • The Song
  • Adam
  • The Falcon
  • The Skylark
  • The Wild Duck
  • The Swift
  • The Wren
  • The Owl
  • The Dove
  • The Crow
  • The Phoenix
  • The Sole of a Foot