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Modern Poetry Portfolio
Transcript of Modern Poetry Portfolio
Ever heard of Sylvia Plath? Sylvia often felt she was only playing second fiddle to her husband's genius and struggled to be a poet in her own right.
Until now, Ted Hughes has only played a minor part in our story, but to dismiss him would be unthinkable in the light of great modern poetry. He is considered to be the best writer of his generation and his work includes poetry, plays, prose & children's books.
Let's take a closer look at Hughes' work.. Even to this day, Sylvia's life, death and poetry speaks to people: 20th century poetry explored Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes Sylvia's later work is often considered her best. Let's have a look at one of her poems from 1961 in a biographical context: Almost a year later she wrote this: American poet but their love encountered difficulties: depression jealousy? suicide attempt at 21 suspicion very successful womanizer infidelity After 6 years of marriage, they separate. Not even six months later, Sylvia loses her battle against depression and kills herself by carbon monoxide poisoning. Ted moves out of the house. He already has a new lover, Assia Wevill. After Sylvia's death, Assia has Ted's child and their affair lasts a few years. But Ted has other lovers, and Assia's jealousy grows. She develops an obsession with Sylvia's life and death.
Six years after Sylvia, she commits suicide in the exact same way, killing her own daughter as well. Sylvia Plath
1932-1963 Ted Hughes
1930-1998 One of Britain's best-known poets depression death infidelity suicide jealousy tragedy despair abandonment heartbreak unhappiness sorrow pain love lost DRAMA wonderful breeding ground for poetry ? YES loneliness strife destruction early work: personal & nature-based imagery miscarriage Sylvia Plath - A Life
Touch it: it won't shrink like an eyeball,
This egg-shaped bailiwick, clear as a tear.
Here's yesterday, last year ---
Palm-spear and lily distinct as flora in the vast
Windless threadwork of a tapestry.
Flick the glass with your fingernail:
It will ping like a Chinese chime in the slightest air stir
Though nobody in there looks up or bothers to answer.
The inhabitants are light as cork,
Every one of them permanently busy.
At their feet, the sea waves bow in single file.
Never trespassing in bad temper:
Stalling in midair,
Short-reined, pawing like paradeground horses.
Overhead, the clouds sit tasseled and fancy
As Victorian cushions. This family
Of valentine faces might please a collector:
They ring true, like good china.
Elsewhere the landscape is more frank.
The light falls without letup, blindingly.
A woman is dragging her shadow in a circle
About a bald hospital saucer.
It resembles the moon, or a sheet of blank paper
And appears to have suffered a sort of private blitzkrieg.
She lives quietly
With no attachments, like a foetus in a bottle,
The obsolete house, the sea, flattened to a picture
She has one too many dimensions to enter.
Grief and anger, exorcised,
Leave her alone now.
The future is a grey seagull
Tattling in its cat-voice of departure.
Age and terror, like nurses, attend her,
And a drowned man, complaining of the great cold,
Crawls up out of the sea. Imagery as imitation & admiration of W.B. Yeats Irish poet & writer Nobelprize for Literature in 1923 Heavily influenced by mythology & mysticism Pessimistic view on Europe after WW I dramatic imagery THE SECOND COMING
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? a year later: Poppies in July Another early poem laden with complicated imagery deals with one of Plath's major themes: her father. The Colossus I shall never get you put together entirely,
Pieced, glued, and properly jointed.
Mule-bray, pig-grunt and bawdy cackles
Proceed from your great lips.
It's worse than a barnyard.
Perhaps you consider yourself an oracle,
Mouthpiece of the dead, or of some god or other.
Thirty years now I have labored
To dredge the silt from your throat.
I am none the wiser.
Scaling little ladders with glue pots and pails of Lysol
I crawl like an ant in mourning
Over the weedy acres of your brow
To mend the immense skull-plates and clear
The bald, white tumuli of your eyes.
A blue sky out of the Oresteia
Arches above us. O father, all by yourself
You are pithy and historical as the Roman Forum.
I open my lunch on a hill of black cypress.
Your fluted bones and acanthine hair are littered
In their old anarchy to the horizon-line.
It would take more than a lightning-stroke
To create such a ruin.
Nights, I squat in the cornucopia
Of your left ear, out of the wind,
Counting the red stars and those of plum-color.
The sun rises under the pillar of your tongue.
My hours are married to shadow.
No longer do I listen for the scrape of a keel
On the blank stones of the landing. Tulips
The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here.
Look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in.
I am learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly
As the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these hands.
I am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions.
I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses
And my history to the anesthetist and my body to surgeons.
They have propped my head between the pillow and the sheet-cuff
Like an eye between two white lids that will not shut.
Stupid pupil, it has to take everything in.
The nurses pass and pass, they are no trouble,
They pass the way gulls pass inland in their white caps,
Doing things with their hands, one just the same as another,
So it is impossible to tell how many there are.
My body is a pebble to them, they tend it as water
Tends to the pebbles it must run over, smoothing them gently.
They bring me numbness in their bright needles, they bring me sleep
Now I have lost myself I am sick of baggage
My patent leather overnight case like a black pillbox,
My husband and child smiling out of the family photo;
Their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks. Setting of the scene:
- who speaks here?
- where are we?
- what words give you an idea
of how the author feels? Stylistic devices
Do you see any
allusions? I have let things slip, a thirty-year~old cargo boat
Stubbornly hanging on to my name and address.
They have swabbed me clear of my loving associations.
Scared and bare on the green plastic-pillowed trolley
I watched my tea set, my bureaus of linen, my books
Sink out of sight, and the water went over my head.
I am a nun now, I have never been so pure.
I didn't want any flowers, I only wanted
To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.
How free it is, you have no idea how free -
The peacefulness is so big it dazes you,
And it asks nothing, a name tag, a few trinkets.
It is what the dead close on, finally; I imagine them
Shutting their mouths on it, like a Communion tablet.
The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me.
Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe
Lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby.
Their redness talks to my wound, it corresponds.
They are subtle: they seem to float, though they weigh me down
Upsetting me with their sudden tongues and their color,
A dozen red lead sinkers round my neck.
Nobody watched me before, now I am watched.
The tulips turn to me, and the window behind me
Where once a day the light slowly widens and slowly thins,
And I see myself, flat, ridiculous, a cut-paper shadow
Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips,
And I have no face, I have wanted to efface myself
The vivid tulips eat my oxygen. What role does the colour red play? How does she feel about the flowers? When she wrote this poem, Sylvia had just had a miscarriage. What imagery & words could be referring to that? What effect did it have on her? How does she feel? Before they came the air was calm enough,
Coming and going, breath by breath, without any fuss.
Then the tulips filled it up like a loud noise.
Now the air snags and eddies round them the way a river
Snags and eddies round a sunken rust-red engine.
They concentrate my attention, that was happy
Playing and resting without committing itself.
The walls, also, seem to be warming themselves.
The tulips should be behind bars like dangerous animals;
They are opening like the mouth of some great African cat,
And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes
Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me.
The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea,
And comes from a country far away as health. What emotions speak from this poem? Do you like it? Why? What do the last lines mean? Poppies In July
Little poppies, little hell flames,
Do you do no harm?
You flicker. I cannot touch you.
I put my hands among the flames. Nothing burns
And it exhausts me to watch you
Flickering like that, wrinkly and clear red, like the skin of a mouth.
A mouth just bloodied.
Little bloody skirts!
There are fumes I cannot touch.
Where are your opiates, your nauseous capsules?
If I could bleed, or sleep!
If my mouth could marry a hurt like that!
Or your liquors seep to me, in this glass capsule,
Dulling and stilling.
But colorless. Colorless. In what way is it similar to 'Tulips'?
- stylistic devices What change of tone do you recognize? Not only does she use extensive imagery, Plath also expresses much emotion with symbolism of colour. In 'Poppies in July' and 'Tulips' we have seen red. What does it represent?
What do the colours used in the next poem reflect? Mirror
I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
What ever you see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful---
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish. What story does the mirror tell? GEDICHT VAN DOCHTER FRIEDA
'remember: borrowing is only legit if you credit your sources!' A recurring theme in Sylvia Plath's work is her father and her attitude towards him. After reading 'Daddy', what do you think is her main complaint with him? let's have closer look.. Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time---
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,
Ghastly statue with one gray toe
Big as a Frisco seal
And a head in the freakish Atlantic
Where it pours bean green over blue
In the waters off the beautiful Nauset.
I used to pray to recover you.
In the German tongue, in the Polish town
Scraped flat by the roller
Of wars, wars, wars.
But the name of the town is common.
My Polack friend
Says there are a dozen or two.
So I never could tell where you
Put your foot, your root,
I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.
It stuck in a barb wire snare.
Ich, ich, ich, ich,
I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you.
And the language obscene What do you learn about
her father here? Why could she never find out where he came from? What do you think he looks like? What words could you use to describe his character? An engine, an engine,
Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.
I began to talk like a Jew.
I think I may well be a Jew.
The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna
Are not very pure or true.
With my gypsy ancestress and my weird luck
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
I may be a bit of a Jew.
I have always been sacred of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
And your neat mustache
And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You----
Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.
You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that, no not
Any less the black man who
Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do. Why did she begin to talk like a Jew? What WW II references do you recognize? What does red symbolize here? Remember what happened? But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look
And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I'm finally through.
The black telephone's off at the root,
The voices just can't worm through.
If I've killed one man, I've killed two---
The vampire who said he was you
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.
There's a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through. interested in psychology? "The poem is spoken by a girl with an Electra complex. The father died while she thought he was God." In a BBC interview, Sylvia Plath said this about 'Daddy' Learn more about Electra complex here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electra_complex Who is the other man?
Why compare him/them to a vampire? This is considered one of Plath's most powerful poems. Do you agree? Why? As Plath's depression progressed, fueled by jealousy, fear of abandonment and feelings of inadequacy and betrayal, her poetry grew darker and reflected increasingly morbid thoughts: Lady Lazarus
I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it-- what is she talking about here? who was Lazarus? Not every poem of this period is, at first glance, as dark as some of the ones we've already explored.
The next poem looks to be about the fairly trivial event of cutting one's thumb. It's up to you to discover and discuss the imagery, symbolism & possibly hidden layers. Cut
What a thrill ----
My thumb instead of an onion.
The top quite gone
Except for a sort of a hinge
A flap like a hat,
Then that red plush.
The Indian's axed your scalp.
Your turkey wattle
Straight from the heart.
I step on it,
Clutching my bottle
Of pink fizz. A celebration, this is.
Out of a gap
A million soldiers run,
Redcoats, every one. Whose side are they on?
Homunculus, I am ill.
I have taken a pill to kill
Kamikaze man ---
The stain on your
Gauze Ku Klux Klan
Darkens and tarnishes and when
Pulp of your heart
Confronts its small
Mill of silence
How you jump----
Thumb stump. a little man Japanese suicide bomber in WW II whose skull has been wounded or operated on Russian doll in a doll in a doll
allusions - why are they used?
what do you think the poem is really about?
what biographical context could you place this poem in? Discuss: Sheep in Fog
The hills step off into whiteness.
People or stars
Regard me sadly, I disappoint them.
The train leaves a line of breath.
Horse the colour of rust,
Hooves, dolorous bells -
All morning the
Morning has been blackening,
A flower left out.
My bones hold a stillness, the far
Fields melt my heart.
To let me through to a heaven
Starless and fatherless, a dark water. Ariel
Stasis in darkness.
Then the substanceless blue
Pour of tor and distances.
How one we grow,
Pivot of heels and knees! -- The furrow
Splits and passes, sister to
The brown arc
Of the neck I cannot catch,
Berries cast dark
Black sweet blood mouthfuls,
Hauls me through air ----
Flakes from my heels. During the last months of her life, Sylvia Plath was more prolific than she'd ever been before in her life. Hughes had left her to be with his mistress who was at that time pregnant by him, and Sylvia and the children had moved to a small apartment in London. She wrote almost maniacally. Most of the work that she would eventually become famous for was written in this period, and after her death it was bundled by Hughes and published posthumously.
This is the title poem of that collection:
Godiva, I unpeel ----
Dead hands, dead stringencies.
And now I
Foam to wheat, a glitter of seas.
The child's cry
Melts in the wall.
Am the arrow,
The dew that flies,
Suicidal, at one with the drive
Into the red
Eye, the cauldron of morning. At first sight, this may seem an impenetrable poem.
Here are some clues:
1. Ariel was the name of Sylvia's horse, which she loved to ride
2. Lady Godiva is a legendary Anglo-Saxon woman famous for riding her horse naked.
So what is the scene here?
What time of day is it?
How does the spacing of the words & sentences support the pace of the poem?
Is there a deeper layer? What might the poem symbolize? Interested in Ango-Saxon history & legends? Replica of ceremonial helmet recovered at the famous archeological burial site of Sutton Hoo Lady Godiva, portrayed by Pre-Raphaelite painter John Collier Learn more about Lady Godiva: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Godiva
Learn more about Sutton Hoo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sutton_Hoo This is one of the last poems Sylvia Plath finished, just one month before her death. What is the overall feeling you are left with,
after having read the poem?
How do you think she must have felt?
What words and imagery indicate that? What do these last lines mean?
Why fatherless? Ironically, Sylvia's work doesn't gain full popularity until after her death.
(As with other great artists ..) Her suicide and depression have been food for much discussion about artists and their supposed melancholy predisposition. Psychologist James Kaufman has even gone so far as to coin the term "the Sylvia Plath-effect" for it.
He claims that 'poets are more susceptible to mental illness than other creative writers', and it's especially female poets who suffer more from mental illness. One of the poets he might be referring to, is Anne Sexton, who was also a female poet who committed suicide. Anne also happened to know Sylvia; they studied together at Boston University. Anne became known for addressing themes such as menstruation and abortion, masturbation and adultery—in a time when this was still 'not done' and considered controversial in creative writing. Anne Sexton 1928-1974 Here's one of her most gripping poems: Another female writer who also committed suicide, was a great inspiration to Sylvia Plath.
Her name was Virginia Woolf and though she didn't write poetry, critics have often remarked upon her poetic style of writing: “Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” Her most famous book, 'A Room of One's Own' is seen as an outcry for female independence.
It is in fact an essay on women in literature.
In one section, Woolf invented a fictional character, Judith, "Shakespeare's sister," to illustrate that a woman with Shakespeare's gifts would have been denied the same opportunities to develop them because of the doors that were closed to women: “I told you in the course of this paper that Shakespeare had a sister; but do not look for her in Sir Sidney Lee's life of the poet. She died young--alas, she never wrote a word. She lies buried where the omnibuses now stop, opposite the Elephant and Castle. Now my belief is that this poet who never wrote a word and was buried at the crossroads still lives. She lives in you and in me, and in many other women who are not here tonight, for they are washing up the dishes and putting the children to bed. But she lives; for great poets do not die; they are continuing presences; they need only the opportunity to walk among us in the flesh.” Back to Sylvia Plath. Depression was probably in her nature, but her unhappy marriage life must've had a lot to do with it as well, even though their romance started off a fairytale-story. When they met, they instantly fell passionately in love, quoting lines from Shakespeare and other poets to each other. Both Hughes and Plath have mentioned the poet D.H. Lawrence as a great inspiration. D.H. Lawrence was an English poet, writer, painter, literary critic and teacher.
His work was regarded as very controversial during his lifetime, because he openly wrote about sexuality. This is clearly reflected in one of his most famous books,
'Lady Chatterley's Lover' D.H. Lawrence 1885-1930 Even though he is best known for his prose, D.H. Lawrence also wrote over 800 poems.
This is one that could represent our main couple's marriage life after a few years:
And because you love me
think you you do not hate me?
Ha, since you love me to ecstasy
it follows you hate me to ecstasy.
Because when you hear me
go down the road outside the house
you must come to the window to watch me go,
do you think it is pure worship?
Because, when I sit in the room,
here, in my own house,
and you want to enlarge yourself with this friend of mine,
such a friend as he is,
yet you cannot get beyond your awareness of me
you are held back by my being in the same world with you,
do you think it is bliss alone?
No doubt if I were dead, you must
reach into death after me,
but would not your hate reach even more madly than your love?
your impassioned, unfinished hate? Since you have a passion for me, as I for you,
does not that passion stand in your way like a Balaam's ass?
and am I not Balaam's ass
But mostly, do you not detest my bray?
Since you are confined in the orbit of me
do you not loathe the confinement?
Is not even the beauty and peace of an orbit
an intolerable prison to you,
as it is to everybody?
But we will learn to submit
each of us to the balanced, eternal orbit
wherein we circle on our fate
in strange conjunction.
What is chaos, my love?
It is not freedom.
A disarray of falling stars coming to nought. Both sides of the medal Now see if you can analyse the next poem.
Discuss subject, layers, symbolism & imagery Electra on Azalea Path
The day you died I went into the dirt,
Into the lightless hibernaculum
Where bees, striped black and gold, sleep out the blizzard
Like hieratic stones, and the ground is hard.
It was good for twenty years, that wintering—
As if you had never existed, as if I came
God-fathered into the world from my mother's belly:
Her wide bed wore the stain of divinity.
I had nothing to do with guilt or anything
When I wormed back under my mother's heart.
Small as a doll in my dress of innocence
I lay dreaming your epic, image by image.
Nobody died or withered on that stage.
Everything took place in a durable whiteness.
The day I woke, I woke on Churchyard Hill.
I found your name, I found your bones and all
Enlisted in a cramped necropolis,
Your speckled stone askew by an iron fence.
In this charity ward, this poorhouse, where the dead
Crowd foot to foot, head to head, no flower
Breaks the soil. This is Azalea Path.
A field of burdock opens to the south.
Six feet of yellow gravel cover you.
The artificial red sage does not stir
In the basket of plastic evergreens they put
At the headstone next to yours, nor does it rot,
Although the rains dissolve a bloody dye:
The ersatz petals drip, and they drip red. Another kind of redness bothers me:
The day your slack sail drank my sister's breath
The flat sea purpled like that evil cloth
My mother unrolled at your last homecoming.
I borrow the stilts of an old tragedy.
The truth is, one late October, at my birth-cry
A scorpion stung its head, and ill-starred thing;
My mother dreamed you face down in the sea.
The stony actors poise and pause for breath.
I brought my love to bear, and then you died.
It was the gangrene ate you to the bone
My mother said; you died like any man.
How shall I age into that state of mind?
I am the ghost of an infamous suicide,
My own blue razor rusting in my throat.
O pardon the one who knocks for pardon at
Your gate, father—your hound-bitch, daughter, friend.
It was my love that did us both to death. easy to blame ted hughes: many have done:
Robin Morgan: J'accuse
Plath voorstanders die: Murderer riepen als hij een lezing deed.
Suffered guilt and grief and Hij trok zich terug, silence about personal life & work got more impersonal.
Hij zei later dat die onpersoonlijkheid zijn ontwikkeling als dichter had beschadigd but he redeemed himself and his reputation through publication of Birthday Letters Hughes' first collection of poems is called: "Hawk in the Rain". These poems often feature real and symbolic appearances of animals such as the jaguar, the fox and the eponymous hawk. I imagine this midnight moment's forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock's loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.
Through the window I see no star:
Something more near
Though deeper within darkness
Is entering the loneliness:
Cold, delicately as the dark snow
A fox's nose touches twig, leaf;
Two eyes serve a movement, that now
And again now, and now, and now
Sets neat prints into the snow
Between trees, and warily a lame
Shadow lags by stump and in hollow
Of a body that is bold to come
Across clearings, an eye,
A widening deepening greenness,
Coming about its own business
Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox
It enters the dark hole of the head.
The window is starless still; the clock ticks,
The page is printed. His debut was an immediate success and won him the Harper prize & critical acclaim in both Britain and the USA. One of his earliest and most famous poems is 'The Though'-Fox'.
It serves as a good introduction to his work. After close reading, can you explain why? Setting of the scene:
where are we?
what time of day is it? What stylistic device do you recognize in the 3rd & 4th stanza?
What purpose does it serve? What is the 'widening deepening greenness'? What does the fox represent?
What is the overall feeling you get from this poem?
Do you think this is an autobiographical poem or universally applicable? Why? I sit in the top of the wood, my eyes closed.
Inaction, no falsifying dream
Between my hooked head and hooked feet:
Or in sleep rehearse perfect kills and eat.
The convenience of the high trees!
The air's buoyancy and the sun's ray
Are of advantage to me;
And the earth's face upward for my inspection.
My feet are locked upon the rough bark.
It took the whole of Creation
To produce my foot, my each feather:
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.
There is no sophistry in my body:
My manners are tearing off heads -
The allotment of death.
For the one path of my flight is direct
Through the bones of the living.
No arguments assert my right:
The sun is behind me.
Nothing has changed since I began.
My eye has permitted no change.
I am going to keep things like this. Hawk Roosting The hawk narrates this poem. Why start with 'I"?
Why is its high-up position relevant?
The capital C in Creation is usually associated with religion, God. In that light, what do these lines mean?
Allotment = distribution. What does the hawk say here and what does it say about him?
What does this conclusion mean? This poem has often been interpreted as the portrayal of fascism. What points to that?
Hughes himself once said the hawk was the voice of Nature. What supports that explanation? Pike, three inches long, perfect
Pike in all parts, green tigering the gold.
Killers from the egg: the malevolent aged grin.
They dance on the surface among the flies.
Or move, stunned by their own grandeur,
Over a bed of emerald, silhouette
Of submarine delicacy and horror.
A hundred feet long in their world.
In ponds, under the heat-struck lily pads-
Gloom of their stillness:
Logged on last year's black leaves, watching upwards.
Or hung in an amber cavern of weeds
The jaws' hooked clamp and fangs
Not to be changed at this date:
A life subdued to its instrument;
The gills kneading quietly, and the pectorals.
Three we kept behind glass,
Jungled in weed: three inches, four,
And four and a half: red fry to them-
Suddenly there were two. Finally one
With a sag belly and the grin it was born with.
And indeed they spare nobody.
Two, six pounds each, over two feet long
High and dry and dead in the willow-herb- How are the pike described? What does it remind you of?
Discuss the layers in this poem. Is it about fish, really? One jammed past its gills down the other's gullet:
The outside eye stared: as a vice locks-
The same iron in this eye
Though its film shrank in death.
A pond I fished, fifty yards across,
Whose lilies and muscular tench
Had outlasted every visible stone
Of the monastery that planted them-
Stilled legendary depth:
It was as deep as England. It held
Pike too immense to stir, so immense and old
That past nightfall I dared not cast
But silently cast and fished
With the hair frozen on my head
For what might move, for what eye might move.
The still splashes on the dark pond,
Owls hushing the floating woods
Frail on my ear against the dream
Darkness beneath night's darkness had freed,
That rose slowly toward me, watching. Pike Thistles Against the rubber tongues of cows and the hoeing hands of men
Thistles spike the summer air
And crackle open under a blue-black pressure.
Every one a revengeful burst
Of resurrection, a grasped fistful
Of splintered weapons and Icelandic frost thrust up
From the underground stain of a decayed Viking.
They are like pale hair and the gutturals of dialects.
Every one manages a plume of blood.
Then they grow grey like men.
Mown down, it is a feud. Their sons appear
Stiff with weapons, fighting back over the same ground. In the fourth stanza, the thistles are compared to mankind. Seen like that, how does the 'behaviour' of the thistles represent man's behaviour? What 'proud' imagery do you recognize?
What words support the prickly nature of thistles? By now you must have formed an idea of the main patterns of Hughes' work:
observations of the natural world and the shaping, often damaging, presence of man. But he didn't limit himself to high-brow poetry. In 1961, 'Meet my Folks!' was published, dedicated to his then new-born daughter Frieda.
It is Hughes' first children's book. containing heavily-rhyming poems in which Hughes describes imagined family members: 'Remains of Elmet' presents Ted Hughes' first collaboration with a photographer, Fay Godwin.
It is a celebration of the area where he spent the first seven years of his childhood. The poems reflect on its landscape, environment, and its people who are said to live in the remains of the Celtic kingdom of Elmet. the crow I crow II intro to birthday letters
B.L. I B.Letters II concept of the crow
a collection of poems based around the character Crow, which borrows extensively from many world mythologies, notably Christian mythology.