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A Review of the Work and Play poem By Ted Hughes

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A Review of the Work and Play poem By Ted Hughes This poem is about a comparison between a swallow and human beings that are on a day trip. The swallow, is at work in the poem and is feeling content. The humans, however, are supposed to be relaxing and having fun, but they feel miserable instead. With this, there is irony here with the title, as the swallow is working but having fun. The writer, I feel, is being biased in his poem. He tends to be in favour of the swallow. The poem is describing the people as 'polluting' the environment. The message of the poem is that we shouldn't destroy our environment and our health by 'baking' ourselves under the sun. The poem talks about the tourists arriving and then leaving unhappily. The writer is also describing the swallow's day, what it does to entertain itself and returning to its home at night. The poem is split into four, unequal stanzas. The first three stanzas, start off with a description of the swallow and then humans. The last stanza, however, starts off with a description of the humans and then the swallow. This makes us stop, think and more eager to finish the poem, as it's a change of pattern. The writer, perhaps wants to leave the reader with a positive and happy image rather than a negative and discomforting image. ...read more.


In the third stanza, the writer uses a lot of alliteration in the first two lines. The use of the 's' words, 'swallow', 'summer' is a bit onomatopoeic, producing a sense of the bird's movement. He uses the word 'seamstress' to describe the swallow, meaning a dressmaker. This metaphor is used to show how she sews something using the sky and water as her material, which makes it now an extended metaphor. In the third line, it is describing its movement, the twists and swerves. The word 'draws' provide a long sound and the word 'knots' provide an abrupt, short sound, perhaps showing the swallow's movement, gliding and then halting abruptly. The writer then uses 'But' again and brings back the negative image. The humans are described as " ...laid out like wounded" the metaphor is showing their pain in sunburn, laid out in rows, endangering themselves, like a line of wounded soldiers. The metaphors, "Flat as in ovens" and "Roasting and basting" gives us the impression they are being cooked. They're being compared to cooking meat. The word 'basting' is describing the humans putting on sun cream and there's a bit of irony between the way we cook meat. The word 'torment' shows us their agony and the word 'blue' gives us an impression of the heat, as hot as a blue flame and the sun's harmful rays. ...read more.


The three metaphors he has used, has provided us with a powerful image of the swallow. The swallow is rejoicing because, everyone has left, her day is over and now she can relax with happiness. I think, this poem has really made me think, that a day out can really cause so much danger to us and to our planet. The irony of the poem, makes you think that a swallow who works hard can still be so happy with its life and there's us, who laze about and is feeling unhappy, so why do we do it? The writer has used a lot of good descriptive metaphors and similes in his poem. I liked the metaphors he used when describing the humans on the beach, "Are laid out like wounded", "Flat as in ovens" and "Roasting and Basting". It really emphasises the whole idea of the humans endangering their lives for some pleasure but they still feel unhappy at the same time. Ted Hughes has really shown his point of view about the situation. He has done this by showing such negative images when describing the humans, making out that the humans have been put on this planet just to destroy it and the animals are living how God would like the humans to live. The way, how the poem is structured to how the writer wants the reader to feel, is a good effect. This brings some realism to the poem and it involves the reader more. ?? ?? ?? ?? Rachel Tsang 10E1/10H1 04/28/07 ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

There is some very detailed analysis in this essay demonstrating hard work and engagement with the poem on a personal level. Evidence from the text is used throughout, and this is usually developed and explored. There are some points for improvement:
1) The essay could have been better planned to enable less of a chronological analysis. It is better to consider poetic techniques and explore these a paragraph at a time. For example, overall tone of the poem, use of imagery, phonological features, structure etc.
2) Errors of expression and punctuation need attention.
3) Although not always relevant, some contextual information can provide insight into the poem.

Overall three stars ***

Marked by teacher Lucy Foss 23/07/2013

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