DRAFT OF HIS FINE POEM 'GO FISHING', titled herein 'To go fishing', 29 lines, with extensive autograph revisions, deletions and lines transposed currente calamo, preserving reconsidered readings, 2 pages, octavo [1980-1981]
To go Fishing
To let brain disintegrate [cancelled and replaced by ?delusive - meaning dissolve?]
To let ghost loosen away downstream
To gulp river & gravity
To lose words & human factor.
To be assumed into glistenings of lymph...
To crawl up crumbling bank & flop
To reach for face, to find limbs
To let the world come back like a hospital.
Busy with urgency words
Part of the printed version (27 lines in all):
Join water, wade into underbeing
Let brain mist into moist earth
Ghost loosen away downstream
Gulp river and gravity...
To let the world come back, like a white hospital
Busy with urgency words...
EVIDENTLY THE FIRST DRAFT OF ONE OF THE FINEST POEMS IN RIVER (1983). The text in this manuscript has many readings different from the final version. Neil Roberts called 'Go Fishing' 'one of his most memorable fishing poems...[one] of the best in the original volume.' Keith Sagar saw the poem as the most important Ted Hughes wrote about his favourite pastime: 'Fishing in deep water at night is the perfect image for the kind of poetry Hughes really wants to write, poetry which projects the most naked and unconditional part of the self into the nightmare darkness, not with the intention of bringing back trophies into the daylight world, but of confronting, being, if necessary, supplanted by, whatever happens to be out there. The poems about fishing and water tend to be those in which this is to be most fully achieved, culminating in "Go Fishing."'(Sagar).
Ted Hughes himself wrote about fishing: 'Any kind of fishing provides that connection with the whole living world. It gives you the opportunity of being truly immersed, turning back into yourself in a good way, a form of meditation, some form of communion with levels of yourself that are deeper than the ordinary self.' Fishing was for him, I am sure, a royal road into his inner being, much as the self-hypnosis he regularly practised. For him it seems true that much of the point of fishing is its role that might be characterised as: casting into the Unconscious.
PROVENANCE: Ted Hughes.
REFERENCES: Neil Roberts, Ted Hughes: A Literary Life, 2006; Keith Sagar, The Laughter of Foxes: A Study of Ted Hughes, 2000.