Herewith a few more illuminating insights from The Letters of Ted Hughes….
Hughes to Anne Sexton, 9 August 1967:
“Don’t you worry about reviews. I’ve just been getting a load of them too. Both kinds are bad, but the favourable are worst I think. They tend to confirm one in one’s own conceit—unless they praise what you yourself don’t like. Also, they make you self-conscious about your virtues—just as when you praise a child for some natural charm. Also, they create an underground opposition: applause is the beginning of abuse. Also, they deprive you of your own anarchic liberties—by electing you into the government. Also, they separate you from your devil, which hates being observed, and only works happily incognito. Also, they deprive you of your detachment from the scene into which you are injecting your work, by making you a visible part of the scene. Also, they satisfy ambition, which only works from a radical discontent and public neglect. Also, they banish your spirit helpers, as when the eskimo hunter enters opens a gift shop and buys a car. Also, they falsify your life, by forcing an identification of you and your poems: your poems earn the praise but you read it and accept it. Etc. Etc. Whereas bad reviews are like a humiliation: you feel you must conscript every reserve including God and the Devil, and produce the absolute reality that will withstand everything. They send you into the wilderness.”
Hughes to Gerald Hughes and family, 27 October 1969:
On his intent in Crow: “[S]ince my tradition—what I set my writing against—is the primitive literatures, the absolute bedrock productions of nature, which I find most congenial anyway, and which seem to me the vital and unchangeable tradition, then I think what I’m doing will always be there. It will be invisible to all those who hardly know that tradition exists (almost all literateurs) and whose brains have been constructed by the aberrations of recent civilisation.”
Hughes to Keith Sagar, 23 May 1974:
“Finally, poems belong to readers—just as houses belong to those who live in them & not to the builders.”