Ted Hughes’s ‘Greening’ and the Environmental Humanities
This chapter positions Hughes within issues and concepts deployed by the environmental humanities, providing a strong sense of Hughes’s significance in the development of our understanding of ecological writing. Referencing my previously published six stages of ‘greening’ in the thinking of Ted Hughes, this chapter frames the evolution of Hughes’s environmentalism within the context of Greg Garrard’s notion of ‘the chiasmus “ecologizing humanity/humanizing ecology”’. Hughes’s education is considered in the light of C. P. Snow’s ‘Two Cultures’ debate and the criticism of scientific determinism in Crow is contrasted with the eventual Poet Laureate claiming expenses for New Scientist as essential for his poetic job. The role of a shared interest in fishing and animals leading to his son’s becoming a scientist is argued to be crucial in this reversal of Hughes’s attitude towards science, together with his scientifically informed activism on behalf of water quality in the rivers of North Devon. The chapter ends by demonstrating Hughes’s sophisticated awareness of various kinds of science and their interventions whilst recognising the cultural role of the arts, which can be neglected, especially in its shamanic mythic modes, by a focus only on the poet’s explicit statements about science, as Hughes himself was aware.