1. On the night of the Passover (as it became known) the Lord slew “all the first born of the land of Egypt, both man and beast” (Exodus 1:11-12), sparing only those obedient Jews who had smeared their doorways with the sacrificial blood of a lamb.

2. The “you” in ‘Shibboleth’ is more clearly associated with Assia than in some other Capriccio poems, but by the use of this pronoun Ted not only maintains the rational, impersonal approach suited his work on the Path of the Sword, he also confirms the loss of individual identity brought about by the Goddess in ‘The Pit and the Stones’.

3. Fortnum and Mason has held many royal licences, granted not only by English royalty but also by members of foreign royal families. It has always prided itself on its ability to ship anything anywhere in the world, but it is best know for supplying caviar and champagne picnic hampers and other ‘essential’ luxuries to the elite.

4. Priest-holes were concealed hiding-places for priests constructed in the homes of English Roman Catholic families so that they might continue to celebrate Mass during the times when Roman Catholics were persecuted by law.

5. All the sheep in one flock are said to be “tarred with the same brush”.

6. Perhaps co-incidentally, Kholstomer, too, is a story about the divisions between different groups of Nature’s creatures and about the misuse of power.

7. The bursting wardrobe, the love of Bach’s music and, especially, the reference to twenty million murdered people, which suggests the Jewish Holocaust, all hint that the ‘you’ in the poem is Assia. In the context of Cabbala, however, these roofless people may well be the exiled Jewish people and the ‘you’ in the poem the exiled daughter of Israel, the Shekinah. Her dwelling place is that of the Soul of the Jewish people. And the task of the Jewish Cabbalist is to reunite the Shekinah, who is the female aspect of God, with the male aspect of God and, thus, to end her, and Israel’s, exile and restore wholeness and harmony.

8. In Ted Hughes: Collected Poems, ‘fearlessly’ has been replaced by ‘selflessly’, thus reinforcing the folly and error of such thinking.

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