Ted Hughes: <em>What is the Truth?</em> (1984)

Ted Hughes: What is the Truth? (1984)

Ted Hughes: <em>What is the Truth?</em> (1995, hardback ed.)

Ted Hughes: What is the Truth? (1995, hardback ed.)

Ted Hughes: <em>What is the Truth?</em> (1995, paperback ed.)

Ted Hughes: What is the Truth? (1995, paperback ed.)

What is the Truth? A Farmyard Fable for the Young.

Author: Hughes, Ted

Publisher: Faber & Faber, 1984
US ed.: Harper & Row, 1984

Illustrated by R. J. Lloyd

What is the Truth? is a book closely connected with Ted Hughes's involvement in a project called "Farms for City Children" set up by Clare and Michael Morpurgo in the 1970s.

The book tells the story of God who summons sleeping villagers to present their perceptions of certain animals to His son. Naturally, the presentations are conflicting so that the question arises what the Truth might be. The villagers' descriptions are given in verse and Reg Lloyd has provided very beautiful illustrations for the book.

The poems in the book are in the vein of Hughes's 'animal/nature poetry' for children as previously appeared in Moon-Bells, Under the North Star or Season Songs. Several of them have subsequently appeared in collections for adults.

Collected Animal Poems reprinted the book with a different set of illustrations.

Two further collections grew from collaborations with Reg Lloyd and belong in the context of Hughes's involvement with Farms for City Children: The Cat and the Cuckoo (1987) and The Mermaid's Purse (1993), both of which appeared as limited editions and have subsequently been re-published with different sets of illustrations.


Note: This is the listing from the 1995 edition. The original of 1984 does not contain a contents listing or poem titles. The followin listing gives you the title and the first line:

  • ["One Day God's Son Looked Down At The Earth …"] [Introduction]
  • Partridge  ("A grand bird is the Partridge, a wild weed of a sort …")
  • Bess my badger  ("Bess my badger grew up …")
  • Badger  ("The Badger in the spinney is the true king of this land …")
  • New Foal  ("Yesterday he was nowhere to be found …")
  • Cow I  ("There's comfort in the Cow, my dear, she's mother to us all …")
  • Cow II  ("The Cow is but a bagpipe …")
  • Cow III  ("I think …")
  • Shire Horses  ("One time we had nothing else of course and handsome they were …")
  • Rat-Psalm  ("Sing the hole's plume, the rafter's cockade …")
  • The Rook  ("With his clothes-peg beak and his bald face …")
  • Rooks  ("Rooks love excitement. When I walked in under the rookery …")
  • The Fox is a jolly farmer  ("The Fox is a jolly farmer and we farm the same land …")
  • The problem about lambs  ("The problem about lambs …")
  • Sheep I  ("If the world were a Sheep, would the Sheep be its Lamb? …")
  • Sheep II  ("The Truth about the Sheep alas …")
  • The beggarly Bat  ("The beggarly Bat, a cut-out, scattily …")
  • Buzzard  ("Big hands - broad, workaday hands …")
  • A Riddle  ("Who …")
  • Pig  ("The Pig that ploughs the orchard with her nose …")
  • Swallows I  ("Blue splinters of queer metal are swallows  …")
  • Swallows II  ("What is loveliest about swallows …")
  • Swallows III  ("I agree …")
  • Swallows IV  ("I'll say this for swallows, they're marvellous workers …")
  • Donkey  ("My donkey …")
  • Pigeons  ("At a big wedding …")
  • Bees  ("Pigeons! They're problems. You know why their crop's called a crop?")
  • Main thing about Badgers  ("Main thing about badgers is hating daylight …")
  • The Treecreeper  ("On a tree-bole: a zigzag upward rivulet …")
  • Weasel I  ("The Weasel whizzes through the woods, he sizzles through the brambles")
  • Mouse  ("The Mouse's round and round and abouts …")
  • Mice are funny little creatures  ("Mice are funny little creatures …")
  • The Fly  ("The Fly …")
  • Flies  ("I don't know about flies …")
  • Weasel II  ("Every creature in its own way …")
  • The White-collared Dove  ("O the White-collared Dove has a swollen nose! …")
  • The roustabout Rooster  ("Why is it …")
  • Hen  ("The Hen …")
  • Goat  ("A few quick flirts of their shameless tails …")
  • Billy Goat  ("With a watery trickle of hooves, a tender bleating …")
  • Nanny Goat  ("If the Goat's eye really were a globe …")
  • Geese  ("Geese are godly creatures, not just for Christmas show …")
  • Two Geese  ("I remember two geese - mainly remember …")
  • The Vixen  ("An October robin kept …")
  • Hunting Song  ("O he steals our crooked speeches, says the Hunting Horn …")
  • Worms  ("I hear for every acre there's a ton of worms beneath …")
  • Weasel III  ("Its face is a furry lizard's face, but prettier …")
  • The twilight white Owl  ("To see the twilight white Owl wavering over the dew-mist …")
  • Catching Carp  ("When the heat-wave world of midsummer …")
  • The Hedgehog  ("The Hedgehog has Itchy the Hedgehog to hug  …")
  • The Hare I  ("That Elf …")
  • The Hare II  ("The Hare is a very fragile thing …")
  • The Hare III  ("Uneasy she nears …")
  • The Hare IV  ("I've seen her …")
  • The Hare V  ("There's something eerie about a hare, no matter how stringy and old …")
  • Bullfinch  ("A mournful note, a crying note …")
  • Roger the Dog  ("Asleep he wheezes at his ease …")
  • Pheasant  ("I was carrying our cat …")
  • Dog  ("I dreamed I woke and was a bark …")
  • Somebody*  ("Drip-tree stillness. And a spring-feeling elation …")
  • Lobworms  ("O early one dawn I walked over the dew …")

* This is the poem "A Solstice", originally published in a limited edition in 1978. The 1984 edition of What is the Truth? is the first trade publication that includes this poem.