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First edition (Faber and Faber, 1957)

The Hawk in the Rain is a collection of poems by the British poet Ted Hughes. Published in 1957, it was Hughes's first book of poetry. The book received immediate acclaim in both England and America, where it won the Galbraith Prize.[1] Many of the book's poems imagine the real and symbolic lives of animals, including a fox, a jaguar, and the eponymous hawk.[1] Other poems focus on erotic relationships, and on stories of the First World War, Hughes's father being a survivor of Gallipoli.

The book, dedicated to Hughes' first wife Sylvia Plath, is a collection of 40 poems. According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Plath considered her husband's poetry ".. the most rich and powerful since that of Yeats and Dylan Thomas". She had typed out almost all his poems and submitted them, in this collection, to a competition for a first book of poems being run by the Poetry Centre of the Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association of New York. In February 1957 the judges, W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, and Marianne Moore, awarded the first prize (publication by Harper and Row) to Hughes. Marianne Moore wrote: "Hughes's talent is unmistakable, the work has focus, is aglow with feeling, with conscience; sensibility is awake, embodied in appropriate diction." Hughes rejected the Latinate and courtly iamb in favour of bludgeoning trochees and spondees. The strong alliteration, onomatopoeia, and hyperbole gave his poems an impact not heard in English verse since the demise of Middle English.



  1. The Hawk in the Rain
  2. The Jaguar
  3. Macaw and Little Miss
  4. The Thought-Fox
  5. The Horses
  6. Famous Poet
  7. Song
  8. Parlour-Piece
  9. Secretary
  10. Soliloquy of a Misanthrope
  11. The Dove-Breeder
  12. Billet-Doux
  13. A Modest Proposal
  14. Incompatibilities
  15. September
  16. Fallgrief's Girl-Friends
  17. Two Phases
  18. The Decay of Vanity
  19. Fair Choice
  20. The Conversion of the Reverend Skinner
  21. Complaint
  22. Phaetons
  23. Egg-Head
  24. The Man Seeking Experience Enquire His Way of a Drop of Water
  25. Meeting
  26. Wind
  27. October Dawn
  28. Roarers in a Ring
  29. Vampire
  30. Childbirth
  31. The Hag
  32. Law in the Country of the Cats
  33. Invitation to the Dance
  34. The Casualty
  35. Bayonet Charge
  36. Griefs for Dead Soldiers
  37. Six Young Men
  38. Two Wise Generals
  39. The Ancient Heroes and the Bomber Pilot
  40. The Martyrdom of Bishop Farrar