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AS and A Level: Ted Hughes

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Top tips for writing about Ted Hughes and his work

  1. 1 Hughes was fascinated by the harsh and brutal cruelty of the animal world.
  2. 2 Simon Armitage said that for Hughes, poetry was ‘a connecting rod between nature and humanity’.
  3. 3 Consider the different perspectives in Hughes’ poems; for example, he uses a subjective tone in Hawk Roosting. In others, he directly addresses the reader.
  4. 4 Consider the symbolic power of Hughes’ poems. The animals could be interpreted as metaphors for his views on humanity and society: what, for example, might the hawk or the jaguar suggest about human nature?
  5. 5 Have a think about Hughes’ style. His language is often concrete and economical, yet retains a powerful impact. Hughes also varies his use of structural devices (rhythm, rhyme etc.). What do you think the effects of these choices are?

Writing about Hughes' poetry

  1. 1 Hughes’ poetry was often inspired by his experiences, such as his childhood in Yorkshire. However, it is important to understand the difference between the poet and the narrative persona created in the poems.
  2. 2 The perspective, tone and register of the narrator are good places to start analysis. Remember that these differ across Hughes’ poems.
  3. 3 Look for patterns and oppositions that emerge.
  4. 4 Consider effects of poetic techniques, for example use of symbolism (a key technique in Hughes’ poems) or phonological devices (to do with sounds).
  5. 5 Consider the effects of structure (e.g. number of verses, line length, rhythm, rhyme etc.) and form (e.g. free verse) as well as language.

Key things to remember when writing essays

  1. 1 All essays should be well planned with clear points. This will help to create a structured essay.
  2. 2 Introductions should clearly show they are answering the question.
  3. 3 Each paragraph should ideally begin with a topic sentence which addresses the question, evidence from the poem/s to support the point (with quotes embedded), and detailed analysis using technical terminology. This can be known as P.E.E (Point, Evidence, Explain).
  4. 4 If relevant, some biographical information about Hughes and the influences on his poetry can contribute to an essay.
  5. 5 Some comparisons with other poems can develop analysis but remember to always adhere to the question.

  • Marked by Teachers essays 1
  1. Marked by a teacher

    A Review of the Work and Play poem By Ted Hughes

    3 star(s)

    In the first three stanzas, the end of the two longest lines rhyme, forming a sort of rhyming couplet, e.g. "...dust" and "...bust" in the first stanza. In the first stanza, the writer, uses alliteration in the first phrase, "The swallow of summer, she toils all the summer" the use of 's' words. This gives the line a sort of rhythm to it. The metaphor, "A blue-dark knot of glittering voltage," gives us this impression of a bright, powerful and energetic image of the swallow.

    • Word count: 1854
  2. In the poem Wind, Ted Hughes describes the experience of a windstorm, using powerful imagery to convey the power and impact of the weather.

    cannot physically be built out at sea); the addition of the modifier "all night" reinforces the idea that this is a temporary state lasting just one night. The phrase "out at sea" is also reminiscent of a ship at sea, which by its very nature is at the mercy of the elements; this reminder reinforces the vulnerability of the house and, by extension, humanity. The poem goes on to introduce the more specific elements of the weather, namely the wind (and to a lesser extend the rain, as demonstrated by the use of the adjective "wet"), making great use of metaphor and personification to turn these elements into tangible objects.

    • Word count: 1137
  3. An analysis of the poem 'Swifts' by Ted Hughes.

    Lines are quite frequently broken or interrupted, or run on to the next line, suggesting the fast, erratic flight of the birds. Furthermore the Hughes immediately establishes the tone and mood of the poem within the opening stanza; it's the "Fifteenth of May"-springtime "Cherry Blossom". Yet whilst Hughes reacts with excitement at watching the punctual arrival of the swifts as can be seen through his direct speech, "Look! They're back! Look!" as for him it seems like it's the beginning of summer.

    • Word count: 1118
  4. The Wind.

    The poem uses onomatopoeia, too, as it describes the sounds that the wind makes: "bang and vanish"; "the house rang like a goblet"; even the roof moves and "the stones cry out under the horizon". In this poem we feel the way man is powerless when nature is at its most violent. Particularly vivid, I feel, is the way Hughes "scaled along the house-side" as if he is rock-climbing just to walk upright in the wind and to save himself from being bowled over.

    • Word count: 1235
  5. Comparative essay - Langston Hughes poems "Mother to Son" and "The n***o Speaks of Rivers".

    The language in "Mother to Son" is very informal. The language used in the poem is like this because the person talking in the poem is talking to their son, i.e. "mother to son", therefore the Langston Hughes feels that the poem need not be formal. However this informal dialect may also be down to the fact that the person speaking throughout the entire poem has a strong American Southern accent, this also effects the dialect used in the poem by making it less formal than that of say someone who came from a different part of America, "Life for me ain't been no crystal stair".

    • Word count: 1197

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