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Compare and contrast Hughes' portrayal of the swallow in 'Work and Play with that of the hawk in 'Hawk Roosting'.

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Introduction

Compare and contrast Hughes' portrayal of the swallow in 'Work and Play with that of the hawk in 'Hawk Roosting' Ted Hughes wrote both 'Work and Play' and 'Hawk Roosting', where birds play a prominent part and some similarities and differences can be found in their presentation. In 'Work and Play' the bird is a swallow being compared to human people and in 'Hawk Roosting' the bird is a Hawk where the poem is written from the hawks points of view. Similarities between the two birds are that they are both birds where flight and free will is described in both of the poems. Another similarity is that in both poems the birds are described as weapons. Ted Hughes mentions in 'Work and Play' that the swallow is a 'barbed harpoon', which is a weapon and suggests alertness similarly to the hawk's poem. The swallow's beak is described using the metaphor. In 'Hawk Roosting' the hawk is described as killing, which is like the hawk is being a weapon. The hawk is alert, similarly to the swallow, in the first verse where the hawk has it's eyes closed, but I think it is still alert as it says in the poem, 'Inaction, no falsifying dream,' so it is not asleep, but resting, ready to react if necessary. ...read more.

Middle

A hook is like a sharp tool which is harsh and painful if caught so the hawk could hurt something easily and it projects a cold and harsh picture of the hawk, hook sounding very similar to hawk. The impression given of the hawk is a bad, cruel one where the hawk is very fierce and tough. The hawk can also be seen as powerful with strength as the hawk mentions that it took the whole of creation to produce the hawk's foot and each feather. Not only is there a contrast between the appearances of the birds but also in their movement. When the swallow is in flight, it is described as a metaphor her being the seamstress of summer. 'She scissors the blue into shapes and she sews it' and 'she draws a long thread and she knots it at corners' are the words that describe her movement in the sky, which is the blue, which she scissors. Her movements come across as very flowing as if the swallow is gliding through the air, drawing a long thread and knotting it which requires soaring, high up in the sky, diving gracefully low. ...read more.

Conclusion

Before it took the whole of creation to produce the hawk's foot, now however it holds creation in it's foot. The world is facing it for the hawk's inspection, showing more control. The swallow shows her control in the way she is described flying in the sky, making shapes with the way she moves. The swallow from 'Work and Play' lives by the sea and the beach above them in the air where there is lots of open space for her to flow gracefully, in contrast to where the hawk lives which is among the trees of the forest. Hughes uses language devices in each poem, to convey his attitude towards the swallow from, 'Work and Play' and the hawk from, 'Hawks Roosting'. In 'Work and Play' there seems to be a playful rhythm when reading the poem aloud with the monosyllabic sentences where the words have a fairly flowing rhythm, where as in 'Hawks Roosting' the sounds of the words are very sharp, similarly monosyllabic though. This poem is more repetitive emphasising the harshness of the hawk and the death, which it is all about. Alliteration is used in both of the poems. In 'Work and Play' Hughes makes the swallow seem better by comparing her to the troubled humans. ...read more.

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