1. Ted Hughes, The Critical Forum Series (Norwich Tapes Ltd: 1978). A transcript of this tape can be found at

2. Ekbert Faas, The Unaccommodated Universe (Santa Barbara U.S.A: Black Sparrow Press, 1980), p. 202.

3. Lucas Myers, The Essential Self (London: Richard Hollis, 2011), p. 13.

4. In 1885, at the age of twenty, Yeats became a founding member of the Dublin Hermetic Society, which adopted the principles of Madam Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society. He later joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn where he rose to the rank of Imperator before breaking away to found Stella Matutina.

5 ULIB 8/1/8: On 10 February 1954, Hughes consulted the influential Ephemeris by Andrea Argoli (1648) which also discusses the astronomical calculations and hypotheses of Tycho Brahe. On 16 February 1955, he consulted William Lilly’s Christian Astrology (1647): a work based on the astronomical studies of Ptolemy, Dee, Fludd, Kepler and others.

6. George Ripley, The Compound of Alchemy (1471); Thomas Norton, Ordinal of Alchemy (1477); Thomas Vaughan, Anthoposophia Theomagica (1650); Anima Magica Abscondita (1650) and Lumen de Lumin (1651); Henry Vaughan, The Chymist’s Key (1657).

7. The alchemical process of progressively refining base matter until gold is produced is not only a chemical process but also a spiritual art aimed at progressively purifying the human soul until the gold of spiritual wholeness is achieved.

8. All this is examined in detail in Ann Skea, Ted Hughes: The Poetic Quest (Armidale, Australia: University of New England Press,1994). (

9. Letter to Olwyn Hughes, February, 1952, in Reid, C. Letters of Ted Hughes (London: Faber, 200), p. 12.

10. ‘At twenty–one, my sacred canon was fixed: Chaucer, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Blake, Wordsworth, Keats, Coleridge, Hopkins, Yeats, Eliot’. Interview with Drue Heinz in The Paris Review (USA: Spring 1995), ‘Ted Hughes: The Art of Poetry No.71. No.134’.

11. All quotations from the Lucretius’ De rerum natura are from the Gutenberg Ebook, (

12. E.H. Gombrich, discusses this influence in detail in Symbolic Images (London: Phaidon Press, 1972) where he examines the art of Michelangelo (1475-1564) , Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) and, in particular, Botticelli (1445-1510).

13. Heinz interview with Hughes, The Paris Review. p.61.

14.Stephen Greenblatt, The Swerve (New York, Norton & Co, 2011), p. 197.

15. A copy of Florio’s translation of Michel de Montaigne’s Essays in which sixteen verses of Lucretius’ poem are quoted is held in Hughes’ library at Emory University, Atlanta, USA.

16. Daniel Weissbort, Ted Hughes: Selected Translations (London: Faber, 2006), p. 100.

17. The number of ancient Greek philosophers, mathematicians, astronomers and geometricians whose work was widely known is apparent in the so–called ‘The School of Athens’ fresco painted by Raphael for the Papal Palace of the Vatican between 1509–1511. These include Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Euclid, Plotinus, Heraclitus and Epicurus. Raphael’s fresco has the accompanying inscription, ‘Seek Knowledge of Causes’. The suggested identification of the 19 figures in this fresco can be found at Wikipedia ‘School of Athens’.

18. Frances Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (USA: University of Chicago Press, 1964), pp. 11-12.

19. Titus Burkhardt, Alchemy (Dorset: Element Books, 1968), p. 196. The Arabic text attributed to Gerber was translated into Latin in the Middle Ages and, as the Tabula Smaragdina, was widely distributed amongst alchemists. Isaac Newton's translation is held in Kings College Library, Cambridge.

20. Titus Burckhardt, pp. 196-7.

21. Lucretius, Book IV. ‘Existence and Character of Images’.

22. Gombrich, pp. 89-90.

23. William Blake: Poems and Prophecies (London: Dent, 1970), ‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell’, pp. 47; 55.

24. Frances Yates, pp. 68-9; 77-8.

25. Heinz interview with Hughes, The Paris Review, p. 82

26. In 1983, Roy Davids gave Hughes a copy of Renaissance and Reform: the Italian Contribution by Frances Yates and inscribed it ‘Ted, towards your definitive collection of Frances Yates…’

27. Yates, p. 18.

28. Stanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Plato, ‘Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’.

29. Marsilio Ficino, The Book of Life, Boer, C (trans.), (Texas: Spring Publications, University of Dallas, 1980).

30. In particular, A.E.Waite, MacGregor Mathers, Aleister Crowley and Helena Blavatsky, all of whom studied and wrote about Hermetic Neoplatonism, Cabbala and other early occult philosophical teachings, and also practiced magical techniques based on these studies.

31. William Butler Yeats, Per Amica Silentia Lunas, section V, p. 30. Gutenberg , (

32. Yeats, ‘The Symbolism of Poetry’, II, p. 90. Gutenberg. The Collected Works of W.B.Yeats. Vol.6., (

33. Yeats, ‘The Symbolism of Poetry’, IV, p. 197. Gutenberg. The Collected Works of W.B.Yeats. Vol.6., (

34. Philip Sidney, Defence of Poesie, Astrophil and Stella and other writings (London: Dent, 1977), p. 113.

35. Faas, p. 199.

36. In an unpublished mss. fragment held at Smith College, two characters are discovered in a bed with an image of the Red Cross Knight on the coverlet.

37 Edmund Spencer, The Faerie Queen, Dedication and Title.Gutenberg., (

38. See Alastair Fowler’s detailed discussion of this in Spenser and the Numbers of Time (London: Routledge &Kegan Paul, 1964); and Time’s Purple Masquers (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966). Also, together with Christopher Butler, in Time Beguiling Sport: Number Symbolism in Shakespeare’s ‘Venus and Adonis’ published in Bloom, E. (ed.), Shakespeare 1564–1964 (Providence: Brown University Press, 1964), pp. 124–33.

39. Drue Heinz, The Paris Review, p.91–4

40. Heinz, The Paris Review, p. 68.

41. For a detailed discussion of the Cabbalistic nature of these works see Ann Skea’s Adam and the Sacred Nine: A Cabbalistic Drama (; and Poetry and Magic, (; Howls & Whispers (; and Capriccio (

42. Frances Yates, The Art of Memory, Chapter 1: the three Latin sources for the classical aart of memory, (London: Pimlico, 1966). pp 17–41

43. Franz Bardon, Initiation into Hermetics (Germany: Ruggeberg, 1962). Hughes recommended this book to Daniel Weissbort, as the latter told me, and in 1968 he sent a copy to Lucas Myers with the inscription ‘To Lucas from the Crow’ (e-mail Myers to Skea 16 February 2001). He also bought Michael Baldwin a copy of The Magician, his training and work, Butler, W.E. (London: Aquarian Press, 1959), cf. Baldwin, Hughes and Shamanism (A Memoir) ( And he had Butler‘s book, Magic and the Qabala (London: Aquarian Press, 1964), in his library.

44. Bardon, pp. 196-206.

45. This is discussed in detail in Ann Skea, ‘Ted Hughes’ Vacanas’, in Mark Wormald, Neil Roberts andTerry.Gifford (eds.)Ted Hughes: From Cambridge to Collected, (Hampshire: Palgave Macmillan, 2013). Also available at 'Ted Hughes' Vacanas:The Difficulties of a Bridegroom' (

46. Ted Hughes, ‘The Zodiac in the Shape of a Crown: What the starry heavens sang for HRH Prince William on 21 July 1982’ in George Mackay Brown, (ed.), Four Poems for St. Magnus (Orkney: Breckness Press, 1987). For a discussion of this poem, see Ann Skea, Ted Hughes and The Zodiac in the Shape of a Crown (

47. See Ann Skea, ‘Ted Hughes and David Hockney’s Alphabet’,Ted Hughes Society Journal, No.5. 2016.

48. Ted Hughes, A Choice of Shakespeare’s Verse (London: Faber, 1971), pp. 167–170; Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being (London: Faber, 1992), pp. 19–34; Winter Pollen (London: Faber, 1994), pp. 293–309.

49. Members of the so-called ‘Areopagus’ were poets who studied classical meter and number with the goal of reforming poetry. They included Philip Sidney, Gabriel Harvey, Edmund Spenser and Edward Dyer.

50 This group included Sir Walter Raleigh, Christopher Marlowe, George Chapman and Thomas Harriot.

51. Yates, pp. 102–3. This begins ‘What a great miracle is Man, O Asclepius’.

52. Yates, pp. 335–6.

53. De Gli Eroici Furori contains love poems and dialogues which use Petrarchan conceits, accompanied by commentaries about their mystical meaning. An English translation by Paolo Eugene Memmo, Jnr. (1994) can be found at Giordano Bruno ( All quotations are from this translation.

54. Yates, pp. 104–5

55. This is examined in detail in Ann Skea’s Poetry and Magic, (; Howls & Whispers (; and Capriccio (

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