Ted Hughes: the poet
Ted Hughes: the poet

Ted Hughes: the poet

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  • Published: October 21, 2017
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I have studied five poems written by Ted Hughes. There are two poems that contrast two opposites and there are two poems that illustrate the power of nature and how it defeats man. The last poem is completely different to the others. It is narrated not by Ted Hughes but it is written as if by a Hawk. Hence the name Hawk Roosting. The other poems I have studied are ‘Warm and Cold’, ‘Work and Play’, ‘Tractor’ and ‘Wind’. The first two poems I will be looking at are ‘Work and Play’ and ‘Warm and Cold’. The poems illustrate the contrasts between the two words in the title. Work and Play’ is an unusual description of work and how it differs from play.

Ted Hughes describes the work in the poem as being graceful and effortless. “The swallow of summer, she toils all summer. ” “The seamstress of summer, she scissors the blue into shapes and she sews it” The play in the poem is described as being painful and cumbersome. “A scamper of colours which roll like tomatoes. ” But the holiday people are laid out like the wounded” Ted Hughes uses imagery in the poem to portray his feelings. The language used is very elegant, especially when describing the swallow in ‘Work and play. ‘ “A blue-dark knot of glittering voltage,”

This language heightens and sustains the interest of the reader. Each poem has a structure. In ‘Work and play’ the structure emphasises the definition between the two comparisons. The ‘play’ part of the p

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oem is always indented which visually separates the two. This is also very effective in ‘The Warm and the Cold’, where they are separated. This acts as a visual aid. The last verse of that poem is formatted in a different way which makes it more prominent. The line “a star falls’ is very powerful as it is separated from the rest of the poem.

The third poem, Hawk Roosting illustrates the contrast between the childish naivety of the Hawk and the conceit and arrogance of the hawk as if depicted an autocratic leader. “My eye has permitted no change. I am going to keep things like this. ” “I kill where I please because it is all mine. ” The creatures that are mentioned in the poems portray individual characters. He personifies animals and objects. “And the tractor, streaming with sweat, raging and trembling and rejoicing. ” The hawk is seen as a great ruler of the treetops “the earth’s face upwards to me for my inspection” and the swallow is clearly a creator bringing about a new season “the seamstress of summer. Hawk roosting shows the hypocrisy of Ted Hughes.

He describes the hawk as being conceited and arrogant but in fact it is actually humans that are conceited and arrogant. The hawk states that he wants to keep things the way they are and not changes them but he does not hold the power to do this. Humans hold this power, but in the other poems, ‘Warm and Cold’ “Work and Play’ ‘Tractor’ and ‘Wind’ it shows that the humans are as powerless as the

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hawk. “Now deep in chairs, in front of the great fire, we grip our hearts and cannot entertain book, thought or each other.

“While man eating flies jab electric shock needles but what can they do? ” “The sweating farmers turn in their sleep like oxen on spits” “It ridicules me – trap of iron stupidity” The subjects discussed in the poems are all inter-linked. The first two poems ‘Work and Play’ and ‘Warm and Cold’ relate to animals and how they contrast to their environment. In the animals natural setting they might seem to be exposed to the elements but Ted Hughes turns this round so that instead they are portrayed as warm, cosy and insulated.

They seem to be protected form the evils of the elements. “The past and the future are jaws of a steel vice. But the carp in its depth like a planet in its heavens. ” The poem ‘tractor’ illustrates man’s vain struggle to defeat nature, for example ploughing the land – getting the best from the land and master the machine. The machine has been put in an impossible situation “I squirt commercial sure-fire down the black throat, it just coughs. It ridicules me – a trap of iron stupidity. ”

The poem ‘wind’ shows the force of nature and how it disables man. Our hearts cannot entertain book, thought or each other” The subject in ‘hawk roosting’ is how the hawk sees life. It shows how it feels superior but how naive it actually is. “Nothing has change since I began. My eye has permitted no change. ” I enjoyed ‘Wind’ very much. The reason for this is that it shows the power and ferocity of the Wind. “The wind wielded blade-light, black and emerald, flexing like the lens of a mad eye. ” The wind is described as powerful and unstoppable. The intensity of the poem is shown by the power of the descriptive words.

For example words such as “fire blazing. “, “the window tremble. “, “crashing through the darkness. ” and “the booming hills. ” The poem I most prefer is “Hawk Roosting”. This is because it shows how naive people can be. This is so even though its is being narrated by a hawk, it is actually written by a person. This also shows characteristics of humans. The poem shows how the hawk is thinking but if you look deeper it is actually the thoughts of humans. Some people are very self-centered imagining themselves to be more important than anyone or anything else in the world.

The naivety is also a characteristic of humans. Each person thinks that they can control what is going on in the world but in reality they are influencing the problem. For example global warming. The hawk is blinded by its arrogance which clearly a characteristic of humans. This can be seen in school, at work and especially in political parties. Hitler displayed this well in the Second World War. Ted Hughes is a talented writer. He uses themes and raises interesting contemporary issues to promote his views.

His use of surreal imagery adds to the intense effect of

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