Between leaving school and going to Cambridge, Ted Hughes did his National Service in the RAF. Writing from RAF West Kirby, in the Wirral, to a friend, Edna Wholey, in 1949 – characteristically there is no date on the letter – he exults in the wild weather:
Edna, I’ve seen rain and I tell you this isn’t rain, – a steady river, well laced with ice, tempest and thunder, covers all this land, and what isn’t concrete has reverted to original chaos of mud water fire and air. Morning and evening its one soak and the sun’s more or less a sponge, and lately comes up frozen quite stiff.
This love of chaos, motion, process, which is the energy of his best poems, and often makes them resemble action paintings, is brought to a halt by the strong stresses on the last three words so that the stretched perception is completed.