Lupercal was Ted Hughes's second collection, containing some of his most brilliant animal poetry. It confirmed his reputation as a major talent in British poetry.
'Hughes has found his own voice, created his own artistic world and has emerged as a poet of the first importance . . . What Ted Hughes has done is to take a limited, personal theme and, by an act of immensely assured poetic skill, has broadened it until it seems to touch upon nearly everything that concerns us.' Al Alvarez, Observer, 27 March, 1960
In language that is by now utterly distinctive, the poems both describe and deliver a kind of psychic shock. Hughes's singularity of vision provides a ready symbiosis between theme and subject - the brute survival instinct of 'Hawk Roosting' or 'Pike', for instance; the rapturous attention bestowed upon 'An Otter' or 'The Bull Moses'; the pervasive legacy of human history that can be seen to saturate a Hughesian landscape.
Lupercal is as vital and urgent today as it was when it was first published, its edict, implicit in every poem: to wake up, to pay attention.