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Unformatted text preview: Kenia Rangel
Ted Hughes writes about the way in which the First World War overshadowed his
childhood, and of its greater impact on the Calder Valley where he spent the first eight years of
his life. He explored this theme in poems such as ‘Six Young Men’ and ‘Bayonet Charge’, and
wrote throughout his career about the impact that the conflict had upon his parents’ generation.
Hughes’s father William served in the Lancashire Fusiliers, joining up in Rochdale in September
1914 and fighting first at Gallipoli and later in France. Many of the men in the Calder Valley and
across the region joined up with friends in so-called 'Pals Battalions' early in the war, and the
massive casualty rates which followed decimated the communities that they had left behind. This
shows how Ted Hughes was incredibly affected by all of the violence. Hughes explored the
impact of the First World War in a number of poems in his first poetry collection The Hawk in
the Rain. An example of Ted Hughes’ World War One influence on his poems is the following
poem, ‘Six Young Men’, which was inspired by a photograph of a group on a Sunday afternoon
outing on the hills above Mytholmroyd, is poignant as the poet cannot escape the knowledge that
none of the men were to survive the war. The fact that they were sitting in a place Hughes knew
so well, links the past even more closely to the present for Hughes. In other poems, Hughes
considered the different consequences of war, from the personal experience of the family
frightened by their father’s nightmares in ‘For the Duration’ to the memorializing of the dead in
the poems ‘Out I, II, III’. Interestingly, while Hughes did not feel able to talk to his father about the war, in these drafts he is often in direct conversation with him, perhaps seeking answers to
the questions which he had not felt able to ask. Through his poems he tries to finds answers that
weren’t given to him before, by his father.
In addition to Wilfred Owen, Hughes’s work in the 1960s also included literary criticism
of poets of the Second World War. Ted Hughes in particular, admired the work of the poet Keith
Douglas who died in 1944 aged only 24. In a radio program entitled ‘Life and Letters / Three
Poets of the Second World War’, first broadcast in 1964, Hughes considered the poetry of three
young poets who all lost their lives in the conflict: Keith Douglas, Drummond Allison and
Sidney Keyes. In his introduction to the program Hughes attributed the development of the term
‘war poet’ to those poets writing in the First World War who began to write about the horrors and
realities of war rather than creating the overtly jingoistic verse of earlier conflicts. Hughes felt
that poets of the Second World War were influenced by the previous generation, although their
poetry was no longer about the injustice of the conflict but instead about one’s own chance of
survival. Hughes’s work explores the legacy of the two world wars on different levels by
considering the impact upon his family and community, as well as the effect upon literature of
the period. Both published and unpublished material provide an insight into Hughes’s views on
war and enable one to understand its impact and what it was like growing up during the interwar
Man and Animals: Ted Hughes, who obtained the fame of Poet Laureate in 1984, totally had 8 major
collections that represented a great variety of forms and subjects during his life. One of them
being the series of animal images that established his fame of "animal poet" or "nature poet".
His special subject matters and bold style made his poems quite different from other
contemporary poets. Ted Hughes had been living near the wide moorland and spending a great
time on fishing and hunting, he had been attracted by beauty and power of nature since his
childhood. However, his feelings towards animals were more than pure appreciation, as one may
think. As a perspective and thoughtful poet, he not only vividly portrayed an animal world in his
poems, but also revealed his philosophical thoughts. Between human beings and animals, there
are several complex and profound relationships. Hughes was inspecting animals in the wild
nature, but by deeper analysis of the relationship between animals and human beings, we can
find that he was expressing his mystical beliefs on human beings through those animals.
Therefore, he uses animals as a means to express his own philosophy about human beings. Many
of his poems are based on animals for that matter. In these poems he deals with violent instinct of
animals he actually deals with wild instinct in human beings. His main focus of attention is not
an animal but on a human being. This means that when you think he is talking about an animal in
a poem and about its “animalistic characteristics” he really isn’t, he is actually talking about the
way that us humans are also ‘animals’ and do not portray ‘human-like’ characteristics at one
point or another.
Hughes was attracted to myths from an early age: ‘I began reading myths and folklore
when I was thirteen or fourteen, and for years, apart from poetry, that was pretty well all I
read’. At Cambridge, Hughes switched from English to Anthropology in his second year following a disturbing dream in which he was visited by a burnt fox. Ted Hughes interpreted the
dream as a warning that in his literary studies he was neglecting his inner life, which he
associated with the imagination, myth and creativity. This then lead to his poems having an
extreme symbolical meaning. Throughout his life he claimed the fox as a totemic animal that
appeared at critical times to alert him to some crisis. For Hughes, vitality and death were the
divine forces in nature that early man had attempted to control and make sense of through myth
and ritual. In The White Goddess, which Hughes described as ‘the chief holy book of my poetic
consciousness,’ Robert Graves argued that the original function of the poet was to write hymns
for the archaic matriarchal ‘Triple Goddess’ of Northern Europe and the Mediterranean.
Archaeologists have found around 30,000 goddess figurines that, in dating as far back as 20,000
BC, represent some of the earliest relics of human art and culture throughout Eastern Europe,
Turkey, Palestine, Egypt, Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. Hughes was influenced by the work
of Carl Jung, Robert Graves, W B Yeats, Mircea Eliade and Paul Radin, and he employed
anthropological and psychological registers interchangeably to describe the creative process. He
believed all forms of art were a natural healing process that employed the psychic equivalent of
the immune system. At times he described the creative process as a form of Jungian
‘individuation’, through which the contents of the individual’s personal and collective
unconscious are made conscious, through the experience of archetypes, providing the psyche
with a sense of wholeness, meaning and purpose. At others, he compared the role of the poet to
that of the shamanic healer of primitive tribes who descended into the underworld to recover a
sick man’s soul, or to perform some task to resolve a crisis afflicting his tribe. Essentially, he
understood the poet as performing a quasi-religious function in providing a healing image that
reconnected man with his inner self and nature. Education:
After high school, Hughes entered the Royal Air Force and served for two years as a
ground wireless mechanic. He then moved to Cambridge to attend Pembroke College on an
academic scholarship. While in college he published a few poems, majored in Anthropology and
Archaeology, and studied mythologies extensively. Hughes graduated from Cambridge in 1954.
A few years later, in 1956, he cofounded the literary magazine St. Botolph’s Review with a
handful of other editors. Hughes taught at University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Relationship/Marriage To Sylvia Plath:
The couple married on June 16, 1956, at St George the Martyr, Holborn) with Plath's
mother in attendance, and spent their honeymoon in Benidorm, Spain. During this time, they
both became deeply interested in astrology and the supernatural, using Ouija boards. In early
1957, Plath and Hughes moved to the United States and from September 1957 Plath taught at
Smith College, her alma mater. Plath took a job as a receptionist in the psychiatric unit
of Massachusetts General Hospital and in the evening sat in on creative writing seminars given
by poet Robert Lowell. Both Lowell and Sexton encouraged Plath to write from her experience
and she did so. She openly discussed her depression with Lowell and her suicide attempts with
Sexton, who led her to write from a more female perspective. Plath began to conceive of herself
as a more serious, focused poet and short-story writer. At this time Plath and Hughes first met the
poet W. S. Merwin, who admired their work and was to remain a lifelong friend. Plath resumed
psychoanalytic treatment in December, working with Ruth Beuscher. Plath and Hughes traveled
across Canada and the United States, staying at the Yaddo artist colony in Saratoga Springs, New
York State in late 1959. The couple moved back to England in December 1959 and lived in London at 3 Chalcot Square, near the Primrose Hill area of Regent's Park, where an English
Heritage plaque records Plath's residence. Their daughter Frieda was born on April 1, 1960, and
in October, Plath published her first collection of poetry, The Colossus. In February 1961, Plath's
second pregnancy ended in miscarriage; several of her poems, including "Parliament Hill
Fields", address this event. In August she finished her semi-autobiographical novel The Bell
Jar and immediately after this, the family moved to Court Green in the small market town
of North Tawton in Devon. Nicholas was born in January 1962. In mid-1962, Hughes began
to keep bees, which would be the subject of many Plath poems. In 1961, the couple rented their
flat at Chalcot Square to Assia and David Wevill. Hughes was immediately struck with the
beautiful Assia, as she was with him. In June 1962, Plath had had a car accident which she
described as one of many suicide attempts. In July 1962, Plath discovered Hughes had been
having an affair with Assia Wevill and in September the couple separated. “‘Depression killed
Sylvia Plath,’ Middlebrook writes, but argues that Plath and Hughes’s marriage was far from a
Relationship to Assia Wevill:
In 1961, poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath rented their flat in Chalcot Square, Primrose Hill,
London to Assia and David Wevill, and took up residence at North Tawton, Devon. Hughes was
immediately struck with Assia, as she was with him. Plath noted their chemistry. Soon afterward,
Ted and Assia began an affair. At the time of Plath's suicide, Wevill was pregnant with Hughes's
child, but she had an abortion soon after Plath's death. The actual relationship, who instigated it,
and its circumstances have been hotly debated for many years. After Plath's suicide, Hughes
moved Wevill into Court Green , where Wevill helped to care for Hughes's and Plath's two
children, Frieda and Nicholas. Wevill was reportedly haunted by Plath's memory; she even began using things that had once belonged to Plath. In a biography of Wevill, Lover of Unreason, the
authors maintain that she used Plath's items not out of obsession, but rather for the sake of
practicality, as she was maintaining a household for Hughes and his children. On 3 March 1965
at age 37, Wevill gave birth to Alexandra Tatiana Elise, nicknamed "Shura", while still married to
David Wevill. Ostracized by her lover's friends and family, and eclipsed by the figure of Plath in
public life, Wevill became anxious and suspicious of Hughes's infidelity, which was real enough.
He began affairs with Brenda Hedden, a married acquaintance who frequented their home, and
Carol Orchard, a nurse 20 years his junior, whom he married in 1970. Wevill's relationship with
Hughes was also fraught with complexities, as shown by a collection of his letters to her that
have been acquired by Emory University. She was continually distraught at his seeming
reluctance to commit to marrying and setting up a home with her, while treating her as a
"housekeeper". Most of Hughes's friends indicate that while he never publicly claimed Shura as
his daughter, although his sister Olwyn said he did believe the child was his.
Infidelity: Poem [View Of A Pig]: The pig lay on a barrow dead.
It weighed, they said, as much as three men.
Its eyes closed, pink white eyelashes.
Its trotters stuck straight out. Such weight and thick pink bulk
Set in death seemed not just dead.
It was less than lifeless, further off.
It was like a sack of wheat. I thumped it without feeling remorse.
One feels guilty insulting the dead,
Walking on graves. But this pig
Did not seem able to accuse. It was too dead. Just so much
A poundage of lard and pork.
Its last dignity had entirely gone.
It was not a figure of fun. Too dead now to pity.
To remember its life, din, stronghold Of earthly pleasure as it had been,
Seemed a false effort, and off the point.
Too deadly factual. Its weight
Oppressed me—how could it be moved?
And the trouble of cutting it up!
The gash in its throat was shocking, but not pathetic. Once I ran at a fair in the noise
To catch a greased piglet
That was faster and nimbler than a cat,
Its squeal was the rending of metal. Pigs must have hot blood, they feel like ovens.
Their bite is worse than a horse’s—
They chop a half-moon clean out.
They eat cinders, dead cats. Distinctions and admirations such
As this one was long finished with.
I stared at it a long time. They were going to scald it,
Scald it and scour it like a doorstep.
Shape: • Nine stanzas each stanza consisting of 4 lines each • The poem has a total of 36 lines • This poem has no particular shape. • It has no rhyme scheme. • Lots of pausing because of its punctuation Subject:
• The subject of the poem is death.
• This poem is about the way that Ted Hughes cannot familiarize with the pig
although he tried to see sympathy in its death. He tries to humanize the pig and
feel bad for it but he ends up not being able to, and expressing himself in a blunt
manner; Bluntly stating that it is “like a sack of wheat” and “Less Than Lifeless”. Audience:
• The audience of the anyone willing to read the poem that has an average reading
comprehension level because this poem does not require much, other than the
understanding of its vocabulary. Purpose and Interpretation: • The purpose of this poem I believe is to show how most of us humans are. The narrator
tries to care for the pig and to feel sorry for it but, ends up not doing anything about it and
not feeling bad.
• This is how us humans “feel bad” abut the killing of all the animals and the
conditions that they are raised in, but then we eat them either way. Just like the
poem we try to seem like we care but our actions say otherwise. Sound Devices:
• • Alliteration:
• Its trotters struck straight • Thick pink bulk • Scald it and scour it No rhyming scheme is present. Language
• Negative connotation is seen throughout the poem because of the narrator describing the
• “too dead” ~ which is repeated three times • Monosyllabic words make up the poem with a few polysyllabic words. Literary Techniques
• Simile: It was like a sack of wheat • Simile: Pigs must have hot blood, they feel like ovens. • Repetition of “too Dead”
• It was too dead. • Too dead now to pity. • Too deadly factual. Point Of View
• This poem is in first person point of view. it is a personal narrative; This is seen
through the use of the pronoun “I”
• “I thumped it without feeling remorse” Tone:
• Frustration~ Because he is trying to feel one way and he can’t. It is like if he was arguing
with himself about who he is, and the way he is. Imagery
• Imagery allows the reader to have a better understanding of what is being discussed. • “Pink white eyelashes” • A poundage of lard and pork • Pigs must have hot blood, they feel like ovens. Critical Interpretations: This poem shows how us humans “feel bad” about the killing of all the animals and
the conditions that they are raised in, but then we eat them either way. Just like the
poem we try to seem like we care but our actions say otherwise. The poem shows us
how we contradict ourselves. • This poem also shows how the narrator is overthinking something very simple. He is
overthinking the death of the animal and his views on it. He knows that he is “supposed”
to care for it and feel bad, but he does not. This shows how society’s views make us
change our own views and we end up not being happy with ourselves because we are not
part of the majority. Additional Poem:
• “Jaguar” • Both poems can be interpreted to be describing the way that humans are similar to
animals, or the way that animalistic actions are also similar to the way we behave. Bibliography: Internet Explorer Google Chrome Book Her Husband by Diane Middlebrook ...
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