Edward "Ted" James Hughes, OM, was the youngest child of William Henry Hughes and Edith Farrar Hughes.
He was Poet Laureate from 1984 until his death.
Hughes was a multitalented poet and he is best acknowledged for
creating influential poems that feature bold metaphors, echoing language,
imagery, and speech rhythms.
Hughes's poetry reflects these traits along with, racial memory, animal instinct and poetic
imagination all flow into one another with an exact sensuousness.
poetry signals a spectacular departure from the prevailing modes of the period.
Unlike R.S. Thomas and Tom Gunn who preferred to write on the bleak beauty of
the British Landscapes, Ted Hughes, OM, preferrs to differ by choosing to focus his
poetic works to root in nature and, in particular, the innocent coarseness of
Ted Hughes has composed over fusion of elegance and fervor in the
Animals in the poems of Hughes are metaphor for his views on
The animals whom Ted Hughes captures in his poems reflect the conflict
between violence and tenderness the manner in which humans strive for ascendancy
The diction of his poems matches the animals that he is picturing
in the Modern poet: Essays from "The Review," Colin Falck says that Hughes's
poetic language has Shakespearean resonance to explore themes which were natural
and ferocious speaking about the innocent savagery of animals.
His works reflect
beauty and violence in the natural world.
Animals serve as a metaphor for his
view on life.
His poems show that animals struggle out for the "survival of the
fittest" in the same way that humans strive for ascendancy and success.
Ted Hughes Captures animal to express his thoughts we have taken the following
poetry for our study:
-- "Hawk Roosting" expresses the royal nature of animals
who consider themselves superior over animals.
Lupercal, sealed Hughes'
including as a major poet and includes many of his most popular evocations of
animals, including the Archive-featured Pike the poem with malicious grin,
Thought fox, Crow poems, "Hawk in the Rain", Moortown Diary.
imagery equipped in these poems show that Hughes was one of the greatest poets
of the natural world.
In the above mentioned remarkable collection of poems he
gives voice to some of the animals around us.
The animal characters that he
creates are distinct like Fox, Horses amusing like the animals of Moortown
Diary, Kingly like Hawk and ferocious like Pike.
The marvelous lightness of the
poems endears these animals to curious readers
who are inquisitive about them.
Apart from the above mentioned ones Ted Hughes
has written 28 whimsical, lyrical and robust animal poems the animals of these
the donkey, and many others.
the purpose of elaborate discussion we will take these poems one by one.
We propose to begin with "Hawk Roosting".
The poem written in fist person as a
dramatic monologue creates a comparison in the readers mind, between the hawk
and an egoistic dictator.
In this poem Ted Hughes portrays the thought process
that goes in the mind of the Hawk and relates it with the mind of every
megalomaniac who considers other people around him as of no or little
The poem reverberates with despotic phrases and turns of expression.
The hawk lives according to the rules designed by him and "No arguments assert"
This poem shows that this is a world where might is right.
says in violent chillingly insightful manner,
'I kill where I please because it
is all mine'.
The massive egotism running through the poem is, again, telling in
its implications for the human world.
Yet the unstated theme lying underneath
the hawk's soliloquy is this, that the hawk is a creation of Nature; its
personality is framed and dictated by Nature.
This Hawk is shown as a tyrant who
does not listen to the people around.
This has allegorical significance in
reference to human beings that unrestrained power in human beings when twisted
and deformed, leads only to tyranny and oppression.
Hawk Roosting of Ted Hughes
has similarity with imperial majesty of Tennyson's Eagle (1851).
quotes Hughes who once said to him in an interview that poetry is "an
exploration of the genuine self" is one way to "unlock the doors of those many
mansions inside the head and express something-of the information that presses
in on us".
Many scholars, such as Ben Howard, suggest that Hughes "has
often seemed the celebrant, if not the proponent of violence and destruction".
This poem signifies self-assertion the following lines reveal it at
Now I hold Creation in my foot
Or fly up, and revolve it all slowly __
I kill where I please because it is all mine.
"I", in the poem a sign of the
Supreme Ego of the hawk as he sits on top of the 'wood' that stands for his
His world is limited between his hooked head and hooked feet.
action does not define him, rather, he defines action.
This is no falsifying
dream, a castle built in the air, but the universal truth.
He dreams about "in
sleep rehearse perfect kills and eat."
Therefore, it is not the basic necessity
of killing and eating that concerns him, but the style of it.
Thus the hawk
transforms into a metaphor of Supreme arrogance of Man where he is haunted by
The trees are also symbol height or achievements, enabling him to reach
The air’s buoyancy enables him to float in the air, the suns rays lend him hope.
These metaphoric description
shows that even circumstances support him.
He as sits over the tree it appears
to him as if the earth is laid down for his inspection.
My feet are locked upon
the rough bark.
It took the whole of Creation
To produce my foot, my each
Now I hold Creation in my foot.
Creation here refers to God (as the
word is capitalized) and by his flying up he can revolve around Creation.
line is an example of a metaphysical conceit.
Hawk asserts triumphantly:
where I please because it is all mine."
Critics like Carol Bere, Colin Falck,
and Christopher Porterfield have pointed out that these lines reflect Fascism.
Hawk’s way of life pertains to the tearing off all heads; suggesting that he is
above all moral and social laws.
He decides the allotment of death.
The path of
his flight through the bones of the living is direct; there are no two ways
On an ending note, he declares that the sun is behind him.
eclipsed the sun.
To put it further, the sun lives in his shadow.
composition of the entire universe is susceptible to change within fractions of
Nothing is constant, as times passes.
However, the Hawk states that
nothing has changed here, as his eye has not permitted it to.
The word eye
denotes both 'vision' and "insight".
The last line functions as an open
challenge to the universal fact that change is inevitable:
"I am going to keep
things like this."
In this poem the hawk is the I-narrator who identifies with
images of earth and water, thus emphasizes about his emotional connection to the
The hawk here apparently defies natural laws, yet finally succumbs to
Hughes symbolizes the hawk as culture and nature, both the head and the
heart of nature.
The following lines reveals image of an imprisoned force:
spins from the bars, but there's no cage to him More than to the visionary his
cell: His stride is wildernesses of freedom.
The Hawk in the Rain is an example
of use of small poetic charms which contain powerful animal energies.
interview with Faas, Hughes says that this poem is written "in an effort to
create an absolutely still language,” to express these small, “self-contained
symbolic creatures who are so much full of energy."
In this poem the poet
expresses his feelings as he sees the Hawk.
"Bloodily grabbed dazed
last-moment-counting Morsel in the earth's mouth, strain to the master Fulcrum
of violence where the hawk hangs still".
harsh rhythms and diction, is influenced by Anglo-Saxon style, its vivid,
grandiose imagery established reputation of Ted Hughes as a poet of
In this collection Hughes has used those themes which
his contemporary movement poets thought should be repressed.
He has used the
primitive energy and the power of the unconscious which the Movement poets never
This collection includes the title poem.
'The Hawk in the Rain' this poem
has a language that draws attention to itself.
In this poem there is a thin
line drawn over an image of an imprisoned force, and the inhibited violence of
it, summarizes everything that is great about Hughes.
Here the Hawk shown is not
wild and ferocious as the Hawk of Hawk Roosting.
This can be compared to Wind
Hover (1860) by GM Hopkins.
'The Thought-Fox' is another important animal
allegory poem of this collection.
The poem The Thought-Fox' is about journey of
writing a poem.
This all happens in the room of the poet where the poet is
sitting trying to compose a poem.
At this moment the poet senses presence of an
animal probably a fox, though the body of this animal is invisible, but it walks
its way forward nervously through the dark this disturbs the poet:
window I see no star; Something more near Though deeper within darkness Is
entering the loneliness. The fox that is seen hidden in these lines is covered
with snow because of the snow the fox's nose had become cold and damp, twitching
moistly and gently. Fox is breathing with this wet nose anxiously in the
darkness. Here the poet uses simile, and withholds the subject with such clarity
so that the fox emerges slowly out of the shapelessness of the snow. In the
beginning of the poem the figure of Fox is not clearly visible however with the
help of phrases like 'lame shadow' poet is able to evoke a more precise image of
the fox. There are certain action phrases in the poem that explain peculiar
movements of the fox such as holding one front-paw in mid-air, and then moves
off again like a limping animal. Some of the words are intentionally left
incomplete to show pausing moment of fox at the outer edge of some trees.
gap between the stanzas indicates effectively the manner in which the fox, after
hesitating warily shoots across: 'Of a body that is bold to come/across
clearings…' In the last stanza of the poem the poet is seen very tensed and
worried. Though by this stanza the poem is about to be fully composed yet at the
same time it expresses an almost predatory thrill; it is as though the fox has
successfully been lured into a hunter's trap. The final line-'the page is
printed'-explains the defenseless death of the ‘thoughtfox’. Towards the end of
the poem, the fox is completely and immediately alive; this is because it has been pinned so artfully upon the page. And the
moment any reader reads the poem the fox is alive and walks in the head of the
readers. Richard Webster says that in the poem there is an impulse which
underlies throughout it is an urge towards which Hughes has himself drawn
attention by repeatedly comparing the act of poetic creation to the process of
capturing or killing small animals. According to the critic in the last stanza
poet is seen as playing a kind of imaginative game in which he attempts to
outstare the fox looking straight into its eyes as it comes closer and closer
and refusing to move, refusing to recoil. Similarly even the fox itself does not
shy away or deviate from its course. It is almost as though, in doing this fox
has successfully proved that though it was initially nervous, circumspect, and
as soft and delicate as the dark snow, it is not 'feminine' after all but tough,
manly and sturdy willed and brilliant, that its presence can be accepted by the
poet without anxiety. The beautiful 'final' nature of the poem allegorically
indicates that poets are not in the presence of any untrained spontaneity, any
primitive or naive vision. It might be suggested that the sensibility behind
Hughes's poem is intellectual, his poems are sort of rebellion against his own
ascetic rationalism that is the reason he feels which drives him to hunt down
and capture an element for his own sensual and intuitive identity which he does
not securely possess. The conflict of sensibility which Hughes unconsciously
dramatizes in 'The Thought-Fox' runs through all his poetry. Towards the end of
the poem the Fox is not described as unshaped being but as a creature attracted
out of the darkness into full consciousness. Unlike earlier it is no longer
anxious and vulnerable, but at home in the lair of the head, safe from
extinction, perfectly, it’s being caught forever on the page. This entire
creation of the fox has allegorical significance. It can be understood in this
manner that the fox is the poem, and the poem is the fox however it does not
have the liberty of a wild animal. It cannot get up from the page and walk off
to hold its young cubs unnoticed by the poet neither it can die in mortal,
animal, style. P. R. King in Nine Contemporary Poets: A Critical Introduction,
remarks that Hughes's emphasis on wild creatures and his concern for them is a
clue to the importance the poet reserves of what animals symbolize in his work"
it also reflect that animals are superior to man in dominance of their rational
self. The publication of Lupercal (1960) won a Somerset Maugham Award in year
1960 and Hawthornden Prize the 1961. This sealed Hughes' reputation as a major
poet. This Collection includes many of his most popular representations of
animals including the Dangerous 'Pike'.
The poem is explained by the hunting
analogy the all time favorite of Hughes with
this style Hughes explains his own creative process with patient concentration.
In the poem Pike Hughes explains and introduces the superficial dimensions of
the pike. He begins the poem by describing different types of Pike fishes: The
poet descries the perfection of the Pike in the first stanza. The pike appears
to be in measured dimension: "three inches long. The whole body of the pike has
green and yellow stripes across it which appears like its identifying marks,
"green tigering gold"; its habitat, "In ponds” under the heat-struck lily pads"
The life of the pike is defined by this physical design; it is "subdued to its
instrument." Pike has the killer-instinct that exists right from the hatching of
the egg. In this manner Hughes transforms our acquaintance with the pike solely
from a material, scientific perspective. According to the poet this violent
nature of Pike is hereditary: "the malevolent aged grin." That they have can be
traced to previous generation. They stage a dance on the surface attracting the
flies, asserting their presence. Hughes has always utilized animals as an
exaggerated metaphor for the instinctual inclination of Man. Later the poet
leads the readers closer to the pike by focusing on specific fish. The poet
speaks of three pike he "kept behind glass" from the time they were in their
first stage of being "three inches" long. Eventually, the confined violence of
these captive pike turns inward and feeds on itself, three pike quickly become
one "with a sag belly and the grin it was born with." Our view of the pike and
its violence advances from a theoretical, external examination to a closer, more
intimate observation. The fish-bowl that keeps Pike behind glass is a symbolic
partition that effectively hurdles the interference of humans in the natural
world. To prevent the reader from mistakenly assuming that the violence
demonstrated by the pike "behind glass" was a result of their captivity, Hughes
describes the same savagery manifested in the pond. In the pond there was a
fight going on between pikes "One jammed past its gills down the other's gullet"
this line shows the self-destructive dimension of violence. As one looks from
above the waters, their shadow appears magnified and the length is pronounced "a
hundred feet long in their world." This signifies the splendor of the pike.
These fishes move glorified by their grandeur, the alga of pond appears as a bed
of emerald for them. In the ponds, they are found also below the heat of the
lily pads. They can be discovered in the shadow of the flower's stillness.
Either they are attached as logs to last year's leaves or appear to hang in a
cavern of weeds. The specific description of jaws is noteworthy. The poet writes
that jaws are perfectly formed 'clamped' to easily prey upon their victims.
These jaws are regarded as preying instruments. Similarly their kneading of the
gills and the pectorals involuntarily performs their respective functions. The
poet also gives details about the revengeful nature of pike that is allegorically referred with some persons who cannot
tolerate the competition and believe in demising off the competitor. The truth
is that they spare nobody, even their own kind as the poet talks of two pikes
"Six pounds each, over two feet long" They are dead in the willows as one gets
choked while swallowing up the other. One jammed past its gills down the other's
gullet. The part of the pike, being eaten, projected its eye as the film of the
fish shrank in death, with the same firmness that was characteristic of the
species. In order to come in closer contact with the pike and appreciate the
ultimate dimension of the violence it symbolizes, Hughes intensifies the degree
of our involvement through the act of fishing. Symbolically, a line connects the
world of light to the world of darkness. According to K. Sagar this feeble
connection is necessary to understand the pike because one cannot apprehend the
essential nature of the pike's violence while firmly rooted on land. Pike’s
great size highlights their mythic quality, and their immensity renders them
motionless this is in great contrast to the furious violence they shown in
earlier lines of the poem killing each other. In the Final Stanza the poets
tells us that they are "so immense and old/that past nightfall I dared not
cast”. Still he goes with "hair frozen" on his head at this point, with this
expression Hughes begins to dissolve the distinction between the fisherman and
the fish. This poem symbolizes violence according to Hughes it has lucid and
sublime violence that cannot be studied or observed "behind glass. The final
terror of the pike is evident when "malevolent aged grin" of the pike is
noticed. In the Introduction of "Pike" Hughes regards it to be "one of my prize
catches." He remembers the large pond where he went for fishing and which is
referred here. The pond that the poet fished in had lilies and fishes that fore
grounded the scene mentioned in the poem. The depth of the pond mentioned in the
poem is itself 'legendary' as it is illustrative of the deep-rooted heritage
that England is synonymous with. The depth of pond mentioned in the poem is
'stilled' or static not meant to change with ravages of time. The Pike has
allegorical significance as an inherent part of man's basic nature as this
violent streak is universal. The human-being also has this killer/survival
instinct right after his birth. This instinct is inborn, but the sophistication
that he develops is acquired. Nevertheless, this aggressive behavior remains in
the subconscious. This killer instinct is a metaphor for the revolutionary
instinct of England.In the last line the poet is shown as silently engaged in
fishing. Here, fishing stands as a metaphor of 'self-discovery.' The hair that
had grown after his birth was a symbol of his sophistication; as he probed his
roots, it had frozen. In the darkness of the night, the poet 'fished' for the
slightest sign of instinct- "for what might move, what eye might move." In
contrast, to the deeper attentiveness of the poet, the splashes seemed prominent
in the tranquil night. The nocturnal owls seemed to be hushing up the floating woods that appeared to be floating to the
poet in his partial dream. According to P. R. King “beneath the night's darkness
another shade was revealed” and “that of the poet's inner conscious” that “rose
slowly towards me, watching." This was the poet's other self that he
encountered-his darker side. The poem, The Jaguar' written by Ted Hughes, is one
of his most famous poems. This poem describes the different types of lifestyles
of animals at a zoo and expresses how the animals who roar and bleat in cages
feel being trapped. This poem also compares and contrasts certain animals in the
zoo with each other. It shows the slow, lazy movements from some of the animals
to the fast, rapid movement of some. Then the poet introduces the hero of the
poem the Jaguar. In 'The Jaguar', Ted Hughes uses techniques such as tone,
metaphors, and similes to portray the activities of the animals at the zoo.When
the poem is comparing the laziness of the animals with the energetic Jaguar, he
says that these animals are so lazy that they are "fatigued with indolence."
Apart from this these animals are very bored; they are exhausted by the boredom
and outrageous surrounding. Every single day the animals are put on show for
people to come and see them, but they just get tired of doing nothing but
sleeping or sitting or moving from one end to the other of the iron cage. Most
of the time, these animals in the zoo sleep and pay no attention to the visitors
looking in on them. As some visitors gather before the cage of parrot, they
"strut like cheap tarts." Hughes describes that birds in the cages pace back in
forth in order to get the visitors attention most likely for some sort of food.
As the guests move from one cage to another they are tired until they reach the
jaguar's cage, in which they see the fierce behavior. These visitors see that
the Jaguar is not at all involved in "petty tricks" to win the attention of the
visitors he has the attitude as if he were a wild beast found in the jungle.
Although the jaguar is caged up, he maintains his kingly sublime. Here Hughes
introduces the fact that even the beasts have emotions subdued down this is
expressed when the poet explains that "Jaguar's heart still remains where he
calls home." Ted Hughes has a brilliant way of looking into life. He expresses
human follies, anger, and hatred through the animal kingdom. His themes are
explored by means of image, myth and symbol all associated with animal world.
The Jaguar is a poem about a fierce animal from the image of which Ted Hughes
unearths something about human nature. On the surface, the poem is an animal
poem which reminds of the wrath and violence of the Jaguar. It is a symbolic
poem about any individual who is firm, fierce yet soft at heart in his
imagination and strides along the path of the world. He may be caged objectively
but subjectively he is liberated and free. His power to exceed the hostile
situation as well as the chalk circle drawn around him by restriction could
never be circumscribed. In Ted Hughes poem The Jaguar, the Jaguar stands for all
the visionaries of the world who have IRWLE VOL. 8 No. I January 2012 9 kept
alive the desire for freedom in every other man for ages. Christopher
Porterfield observed, that" Hughes in his poem Jaguar express the internalized
violence with more imaginative power than any other modern poet, it is perhaps
because he does so from within a poetic sensibility which is itself profoundly
intellectual, and deeply marked by puritanical rationalism which he so
frequently attacks. The origin of Crow is well documented Hughes writes an
article to explain the Creation of Crow. According to the poet Crow grew out of
an invitation by Leonard Baskin to make a book which speaks all about crow in a
folklore manner. It does not contain any of the various fragments of explanatory
commentary added. As the protagonist of a book, crow becomes symbol and leads a
legendary life. This collection includes sequence of poems within a framework
which looks like folkmythology. Ted Hughes hides beneath the figure of Crow, and
continues his journey of exploration into the human psyche and, handles the
themes of the death/rebirth theme in his poetry. According to the poet the
entire sequence of Crow Poems deal with a quest, a journey to the underworld and
this is the basic theme of many folktales, myths and narratives. The Poem begins
with the God having an argument with his own Nightmare. The Nightmare accuses
God about the adequacy of man as a creation. However God does not agree with it
and is very defensive of man. According to Him man is a very good and successful
invention and in given materials and situation in which he is created he's quite
adequate and his performance is satisfactory. At this time a representative of
Man comes to meet God and requests God to take back life because they have
become very tired of their lives. This makes the God angry and He vows that with
similar materials and situation from which he has created man he will create
better being than man this is how Crow was created. When he first appears in
front of God he looks like. "Wretched, black, horrible, little nothing" Later in
the poem Hughes is imagines that he is a prince who wants to go on journey of
exploration. This journey will lead him towards unfolding may mysteries
associated with Human Life. For this Journey he needs a vehicle which is equally
rational like him and finally decides to go on crow. Hughes gives reason for his
choice of Crow he says that he has done for allegorical significance. Crow has
many characteristics in common with Man. It is common figure in many mythologies
apart from being interfering, a moral, destructive he is at times constructive
personality. This crow of Hughes, laughs, sings and eats, and displays his
supreme egotism by "Flying the black flag of himself" (Crow Blacker than Ever;
C.p. 69) According to Caroline the entire character of crow reflects the havoc
and horror which has created him.
to Caroline and Sagar "Crow is Everyman who will not acknowledge that hates and
fears everything within and around him”. Later Crow starts interfering in the
works of God. In ‘A Childish Prank” God, Hughes explained in his story that at
first was "rather indulgent" towards Crow. God shares his creation story of Adam
and Eve with crow. "He tends to show it the beautiful aspect associated with
creation of man." God wants lost happiness and enthusiasm back in life of man.
Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow ends with Hughes invocation to the
creative/destructive energies of nature which has helped him with creation of
Crow to: "Sit on my finger, sing in my ear, O little blood". In this manner he
returns to the theme of the quest and of spiritual rebirth. The Crow poems deal
with brutal violence though Hughes never supports violence but believes that it
is a kind of necessary psychological amour to ward off anxiety. Richard
Barrister says that Crow poems, are Hughes's most extraordinary poetic
achievement. According to him in this collection, the poet assumes imaginative
responsibility for the puritanical violence which is present in his poetry since
the very beginning; the critic feels that in this Collection he deems to take
full possession of his poetic powers. G.I James says that it these poems, the
readers are made to view a shadowy and underworld existence, which is full of
not only violence but also all that imaginative wealth and vitality one could
think of. The poem Second Glance at a Jaguar is from collection of poems called
Wodwo (1967). In this poem Hughes embodies Jaguar's restlessness and passion,
this effect is achieved by loading the lines with verbs to express like
"shoving," "lifting," "hanging," "combing," "hurrying." The poem explores every
aspect of Jaguar's physicality such as in and out of the hip joint, under the
spine, in the socket of the hind legs, the back teeth, and the blackness of the
mouth, fangs, bottom jaw, and clubtail. The poem shows that it is only through
an exploration of the physical aspect one can deduce about Jaguar's nature, the
minute details enables the readers to understand the animal with deep intensity.
The Poet uses swift diction that explains the noble aggression of the jaguar and
describes its movements such as grinding, spining, swiping, striding,
club-swinging, coiling and flourishing. The jaguar's violence is compared with
the gangsters, and his overwhelming, unstoppable energy is compared with the
relentless drive of the body's engine, 'lifting the air up and shoving on
under', muttering 'some drum song of murder'. Jamie McKendrick says that various
images in this poem are unified by references to roundness such as the 'skinful
of bowls', the stump-legged waddle that is 'trying to grind some square/Socket
between his hind legs round'. The entire poem focuses on Jaguar's internal
geometry; it IRWLE VOL. 8 No. I January 2012 11 presents 'urgency of his hurry',
as the jaguar practices at refining his movements towards a perfect though
imaginary kill. Moortown Diary (1989) is a group of thirty-four poems these
poems record Hughes's experiences at his Devonshire farm; this collection of
poems is dedicated to the memory of his late father-in-law, Jack Orchard. The
poems here are filled with images of sheep and births of lambs and calves, the
poems reveal Hughes as a tender observer of nature. Moortown Diary, in the words
of its Introduction it, "more or less excludes the poetic process"-or at any
rate it changes that process from one of recollection and reshaping to something
more like documentary," It appears not like poetic compositions but like the
quick jottings of a journalist. This writing trend was popular in 70s wherein by
writing quickly and without corrections poets were able to avoid the falsifying
input of the intellect. However the critics say that gentleness of animals
reflected here is not so meek and polite but beneath these poems brutal
descriptions of the harsh realities of farm life can also be seen for instance
Hughes describes a newborn lamb and its mother lying on the ground "face to face
like two mortally wounded duelists." Joseph Parisi noted that Hughes has in
depth knowledge of the animals which is seen here. In Chicago Tribune Book World
he writes that these poems show Hughes "at the height of his powers," McPherson
explained that the strength to the diction comes from Hughes's respect for and
intimate knowledge of his subject matter. The critic says that the poems of
Hughes which grow from close contact with their subject have the real healing
effect and are as vigorous as if are written today." In a Los Angeles Times Book
Review critique of Moortown, Peter Clothier note, "The weight and power of the
book come in the title sequence." Christopher Ricks in New York Time Book Review
stated, "Moortown' strikes me as one of (Hughes's) truest achievements in a very
long time." Hughes has written one more Poem with the name Moortown but it
cannot be confused with Moortown Diary. Moortown (1979) is composed of four
sequences of poems which was singled out for acclaim by critics, recounts in
diary form Hughes's experiences as a dairy farmer deeply engaged in the birth
and death cycles of animals. River (1983) offer vivid descriptions of animal
life and nature and generally project a more positive view of humanity than
Hughes's previous works. The poems in River follow a series of rivers through
the course of a year, describing their sundry landscapes and animal life. These
volumes reveal Hughes's finest qualities as a poet and his ability to evoke the
natural world in rich, sensuous detail and his unsentimental yet respectful view
of life. To read Hughes's poetry is to enter a world dominated by nature
especially by animals. This holds true for nearly all of his books, from The
Hawk in the Rain to Moortown, an examination of life on a farm. IRWLE VOL. 8 No.
I January 2012 12 Speaking about Ted Hughes use of animal for allegorical
significance London Times contributor Thomas Nye, said “Hughes once confessed”
that “he began writing poems in adolescence, yet had love for wild animals and
always wanted to possess one.” He wanted to capture not just live animals, but
the aliveness of animals in their natural state: Their wildness, their humidity,
the fox-ness of the fox and the crow-ness of the crow." Hughes's apparent
obsession with animals and nature in his poetry has incurred the disapproval of
some critics. Tony Shaw saw Hughes's concentration on animals as his attempt to
clarify his feelings on the human condition. Hughes, in his poems examines the
isolated and insecure position of man in nature and his chances of overcoming
his alienation from the world around him. In pursuit of these interests Hughes
focuses frequently (and often brilliantly) upon animals." It is a fastidious
virtue of Hughes's poetry that he shares with only the very best poets. In his
poems complexity exists simultaneously with simplicity of expression. His view
of the poet's role as shaman was one he took seriously, and many of his poems
are unembarrassed shamanic flights of fancy into the animal world. These
excursions to the Jungle enabled him to select his subject of Poem, be it
Jaguar, Pike or Hawk. No one could ever accuse him of simplicity or
superficiality, and yet his poems have closeness with plainness that students,
even of a young age, find alluring and true. They draw the reader in, like black
holes, whose event-horizons are instant, but whose intensities are infinite and
utterly absorbing. His Noah-like cataloguing of the animal kingdom is of course
a further lure to all readers.
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