Ted Hughes Poetry Semester 1

The Thought-Fox
Summary: The speaker is writing and imagines his thought process as a fox. The fox enters quietly in the darkness, then becomes a concrete presence, or a fully formed thought, which strikes the writer with inspiration.
Type of poem: Conceit
Poetic Devices: Enjambment, sensory imagery, slant rhyme, alliteration
Speaker: A writer, first person
Tone: Solemn and tranquil
Volta: Last stanza; fox becomes concrete thought, arrives in head

Summary: The speaker is in a relationship with a lady he loves deeply, but cannot be with.

He is in her shadow, then she won’t come home. Her beauty broke his heart, and she had other lovers. In the end, he knows he will lose her and then be “at rest.”
Type of poem: Ode
Poetic Devices: Nature imagery, allusions to Greek mythology, personification of nature, refrain of “O my lady” and “O lady”, slant rhyme, juxtaposition of beauty/softness and coldness/hardness, metaphors glorifying woman
Speaker: Poet, first person, written at age 19, doomed relationship
Tone: Enamored, yet forlorn
Volta: Last stanza; lady is gone and speaker is “at rest”; they are no longer together

The Jaguar
Summary: This poem is set in a zoo.

Most of the animals are lethargic or sleeping, having resigned themselves to lives of captivity. However, the jaguar has retained his wildness and freedom. Despite being in a cage, he is powerful and fierce.
Poetic Devices: Simile, alliteration, metaphor, imagery, enjambment
Speaker: Poet; Hughes loved animals, worked at zoo
Tone: Dramatic and reverent
Volta: Introduction of jaguar; contrast with tame, sleepy animals and intense, angry jaguar

Summary: A man looks in the mirror and feels powerful and in control, but then he recollects a time when he saw a goat staring down at him on a mountain.

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There, he was judged by a god-like figure. Finally, the goat runs away.
Poetic Devices: Allusion to Doctor Faustus, symbolism, simile, color imagery, onomatopoeia
Speaker: The poet, third person
Tone: Arrogant, then uncertain and timid
Volta: Switches from confident man to a recollection of a humbling moment of insecurity

Summary: A house is in the middle of a long storm with heavy winds. The next day, the wind is still ferocious, and the speaker goes outside. He sees the effects of the wind on the landscape and animals. The house seems on the brink of destruction, and the people inside sit petrified and wait.
Poetic Devices: Personification, simile, sensory imagery, metaphor, color imagery
Speaker: Man who lives in the house, first person
Tone: Alarmed, yet resolute
Volta: Second stanza, transition from the darkness of night to the day when wind’s destruction is visible.

October Dawn
Summary: A wineglass is personified to have a premonition of icy winter in October. It is told in the progression of winter, which gets colder and colder and freezes more water into ice. The ice and cold are also personified as freezing the world. At the end of the poem, it is noted that winter is “about to start.”
Poetic Devices: Personification, metaphor, end rhyme, enjambment, repetition
Speaker: Third person/ the wineglass
Tone: Ominous and apprehensive, sense of dread
Volta: Winter’s effects become concrete at “then tons of chain…” because they disrupt entire rivers, not just small things

Bayonet Charge
Summary: A soldier is woken up by an ambush or surprise attack and runs to the hedge where the rifle fire is. He is disoriented and wonders why he is fighting. A rabbit is thrown from the trenches and the man continues running, terrified, toward the hedge.
Poetic Devices: Simile, enjambment, sensory imagery, industrial imagery, alliteration
Speaker: A soldier, third person omniscient
Tone: Frantic, overwhelmed, panicked, frightened
Volta: At beginning and end of middle stanza; poem switches from action to soldier’s thoughts and then back to the action

Six Young Men
Summary: There are six young men who were photographed 40 years ago, showing them as friends with distinct personalities wearing their Sunday best in front of a waterfall. They all six were killed in a war, but there is a seventh man who survived with emotional wounds.
Poetic Devices: Parallel structure, juxtaposition of happy photo and ugly war/death, nature imagery, consonance, war/death imagery
Speaker: Third person, except for “I” used once. Hughes’ father fought in a war and was emotionally damaged.
Tone: Nostalgic, but detached. There is a fondness for the men and tranquil setting, but the men’s deaths are described casually using blunt, graphic language.
Volta: Shift from six dead young men to the seventh traumatized man who survived.

Crow Hill
Summary: A powerful storm soaks a farm in the moors. The wind and rain destroy everything, undeterred by houses. Farmers are described as doing little besides existing and the hefty livestock seem fragile in the strong wind. All are arrogantly resisting the storm that has flattened the surrounding hills. A hawk is flung by the wind and a fox is tossed into the soggy ground.
Poetic Devices: Metaphor, alliteration, end rhyme, juxtaposition, slant rhyme
Speaker: The poet, Hughes grew up amongst farms and moorland in England.
Tone: In awe of the mighty power of wind and rain, derogatory towards man and animals, who deny nature’s power
Volta: First stanza describes storm’s effect on humans, shirts to creatures/landscape, third stanza concludes effect on animals and lesson of storm

Esther’s Tomcat
Summary: A weathered tomcat awakens from his nap to attack on a horse. The cat kills the knight and also kills dogs and hens in a savage, gruesome manner. He sleeps all day and kills at night. After mauling animals, he gracefully walks away, thinking of the moon and its position above all of humanity.
Poetic Devices: Simile, color imagery, personification, hyperbole, industrial imagery, moon motif
Speaker: Poet; cat seems feral, but title is Esther’s Tomcat = he is a pet
Tone: Admiring and reverent towards cat, struck by the duality of their nature in day and night. Cat’s killing is god-like, humans are weak
Volta: After second stanza, cat awakens from sleep to deadly action

Hawk Roosting
Summary: A hawk sleeps while perched in a tree. He thinks of how nature serves him and how he preys on God’s Creation. He is an instinctual killer with no thought besides killing. He will never allow any change.
Poetic Devices: Consonance, Personification, Synecdoche, Enjambment, Repetition
Speaker: The hawk
Tone: Domineering and arrogant
Volta: Shifts from hawk’s thoughts to description of his actions and killing

View of a Pig
Summary: There is a dead pig on a barrow, which seems like an object that was never alive. The speaker feels no guilt for the heavy, dead pig and remembers trying to catch a piglet at a fair. He describes live pigs, and states how long ago the dead pig lived, remarking that they are going to cook and eat the dead pig.
Poetic Devices: Simile, enjambment, metaphor, consonance, alliteration
Speaker: Poet, young and naive boy, but jaded and numb adult with no remorse for pig
Tone: Detached and cynical, uses “they” to describe pig’s killers, no pity, objectifies pig
Volta: When speaker shifts to live piglet at the fair

Summary: There is a long rain that soaks the land. The speaker walks down a lane and sees a tramp in the ditch, sleeping. At first, he thinks the tramp is dead. It begins to rain and the speaker watches the tramp. It rains harder, prompting the speaker to run into the wood, where there are dead animals hanging from gallows by their necks in the rain.
Poetic Devices: Simile, personification, industrial imagery, alliteration, color imagery
Speaker: The poet
Tone: Dismal, yet hopeful
Volta: When speaker runs to woods, he goes from calm and pensive to panicked and scared

Summary: Thrushes sit poised on the lawn, ready to kill their prey. The speaker wonders if their brains or their bodies are behind their deadly efficiency. He contrasts this with man, who sits at a desk whittling ivory for years and prays, but is distracted by sin.
Poetic Devices: Alliteration, industrial imagery, biblical allusion, rhetorical question, enjambment
Speaker: The poet
Tone: Admiring and in awe of thrush, but critical of man
Volta: Speaker switches from praising thrush to degrading man in last stanza

Summary: Winter is squeezing the world. The mice, weasels, and crows are suffering and dying. The snowdrop is a white flowering plant with a drooping blossom. The snowdrop blooms at the first sign of spring.
Poetic devices: Hyperbole, industrial imagery, simile, personification, slant rhyme
Speaker: The poet
Tone: Somber because of winter and death, but hopeful for spring coming
Volta: None

Summary: A beautiful description of the pike fish swimming in ponds, hiding in weeds, and eating its brethren that extols the fish’s appearance and behavior. Hughes alludes to his past when he kept 3 fish in a glass case, but one died. He also saw a big pike devour another pike. The poem finishes with Hughes fishing in a pond at night that is full of huge, ancient pike watching him.
Poetic Devices: Color imagery, personification, repetition, enjambment, simile, alliteration, consonance
Speaker: The poet
Tone: Reverent and pensive
Volta: Shifts from quaint fish praise to the violence of the pike cannibalism, then to reverence and dread of the huge, old fish in the pond.

Summary: Thistles grow in the summer. They are described as the rebirth of fierce Viking warriors, waging war against man and cow. Eventually, they turn grey, and their offspring must continue the battle.
Poetic Devices: Personification, Parallelism, Consonance, Metaphor, Simile, Alliteration, Color Imagery
Speaker: The poet, third person
Tone: Intense yet respectful, elevating the thistle to a position as a fierce fighter and equal of man
Volta: None

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Ted Hughes Poetry Semester 1. (2018, Jan 10). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/paper-on-ted-hughes-poetry-semester-1/

Ted Hughes Poetry Semester 1
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