Shrewsbury School

'Fishing for Ted Hughes'

Friday 19 September 2014

On Friday 12th September, the Sidney Society welcomed Dr Mark Wormald (OS) of Pembroke College, Cambridge, who presented his research into the lifelong fishing hobby of the poet Ted Hughes. Theo Simmons (Ch UVI) reports.

Dr Wormald has followed the wader-clad footsteps of the poet through both his written work and real world haunts and was able to give us fresh insight into his writings. Technical fishing metaphors were decoded, along with back stories of fishing experiences and companions, from childhood through to adulthood, that shaped his poetry. Equally interesting was the discussion of the pragmatic, patient, ‘philosophy’ of fishing which compellingly revealed how crucial Hughes’ hobby was to his approach to life and verse.

The poet’s enthusiasm for his passion was matched by Dr Wormald's, and the audience was given the exclusive sight of casting practice being held in the Maidment Auditorium using the rods of the poet himself.

The proselytising aim of increasing interest in fishing was, I suspect, reached or re-affirmed in many cases. As for Hughes’ poetry, well, the poet was also reaffirmed as a conduit with the rare ability to communicate powerful experiences with the natural world. In an age where so many of us are denied or divorced from such a connection with the English landscape, his poetry seems to takes on an almost mystical quality.

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