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Ted Hughes: "Hughes' early poems describe the animal kingdom with exact naturalistic detail. They also focus on animals to probe at aspects of human nature."

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Introduction

Ted Hughes: "Hughes' early poems describe the animal kingdom with exact naturalistic detail. They also focus on animals to probe at aspects of human nature." During the course of this essay I will be discussing this title with respect to two of Hughes' poems, 'Hawk Roosting' and 'Pike'. Firstly I will examine the title in relation to the poem 'Pike'. The first stanza of Hughes' poem shows a distinction between his own style and the Romanticism of the Nineteenth Century's style of poetry: 'Pike, three inches long, perfect Pike in all parts, green tigering the gold. Killers from the egg: the malevolent aged grin. They dance on the surface among the flies.' In contrast to Wordsworth's idealism's, and pondering of nature and delicate human emotions, "Pike" shows a rough and more realistic nature. Unlike the beautiful, idyllic scenes of the Romantics that evoked complex views, Hughes' poem describes simple human emotions. This occurs because "Pike" depicts a nature commanding respect for its obvious rawness, power, and uniqueness, in contrast to the universal "Nature" of the Nineteenth Century. ...read more.

Middle

Adjectives and verbs used such as: stunned, jammed, jungled; sagging bellies, hooked jaws, legendary depths; killers with malevolent grins, all give the impression of the pike, and indeed nature, being powerful and dynamic. Another poetic device used by Hughes is personification. The reader first encounters this by seeing a three inch, grinning young pike thinking of itself as, "A hundred feet long " (ln 8). This is a fairly tame image, associated to the young of the ferocious lion, who seem cute and charming as inquisitive cubs. It may perhaps be a probe at human nature, with Hughes arguing like Blake did two decades earlier that humans are born innocent but as they grow they fast descend into the realms of experience and in doing so lose their innocence and become somewhat savage. It would seem that this is the case in this poem because as the poem progresses, the pike is no longer a curious young fish, but a savage predator fighting for survival, the same of which could be said about a human at this stage. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Hawk speaks in a very farfetched way: I hold Creation in my foot...I revolve it [Creation] all slowly...it is all mine. This stresses the hawk's feeling that he alone is dominant. The poet may be scared that one creature can claim so much power over its fellow creatures. Hughes is questioning exactly what the nature of a god/creator is. He then makes the point that man (who believes himself capable of most of the things the hawk claims to do) is over-reaching himself and that nobody should control all of Creation like that, so again the title is correct in this instance as well. Incidentally in contrast to the poem "Pike", this poem is written in six regular stanzas. The regularity and order of the stanzas are perhaps to remind us of the control the hawk, and indeed humans, claim to have over their worlds. So overall, based on the above analysis, it would seem accurate to conclude that, based on the two poems I have analysed, Hughes' early poems do describe the animal kingdom with exact naturalistic detail as well as focusing on animals to probe at aspects of human activity. Richard Stephens 6/12/02 1 ...read more.

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