This precious volume was published in 1990, almost thirty years after Hughes’ began his affair with Assia Wevill. It was illustrated by artist Leonard Baskin, and published by Baskin’s Gehenna Press in a limited edition of fifty. At $4000 each, and filled with richly coloured engravings by Baskin, the beautifully boxed leather volume was a collector’s copy. All twenty poems in ‘Capriccio’ deal with some aspect of his relationship with Assia Wevill. Many of the poems in Capriccio were written in the second person; the ‘you’ was not identified, although there were hints here and there (as in Folktale: He wanted the seven treasures of Asia).
Apart from its musical connotation, Hughes’ title Capriccio bears several interpretations, from ‘capricious’, derived from the Latin caper, the goat, to the ancient Latin ‘racapriccio’ meaning ‘horror’. Thus these poems are thematically linked, by the idea of the capriciousness of fate, to the elements of shock or horror, which Hughes often expressed by reference to ancient myths.