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Pike - Ted Hughes

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Hogan Wang

on 25 September 2014

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Transcript of Pike - Ted Hughes

Pike - Ted Hughes
Hogan Wang
POWER
The pike are obviously powerful creatures in their environment - "jaws hooked clamp and fangs", "killers from the egg", "malevolent aged grin"

Indeed, the other animals in their environment fear pike, "A hundred feet long in their world"

They are described to be so violent that they devour their own kind, shown through Hughes' flashback
He describes this through disturbing imagery: "One jammed past its gills down the other's gullet"

Hughes' anecdote, where he "silently cast and fished", shows how frightened he is by the presence of pike; his hair is said to be "frozen on [his] head"


Or Awe?
Anecdote
Located from the eighth stanza, this anecdote serves to highlight the fear that man feels from such a creature

He recalls fishing in the crumbling ruins of a monastery, where he recognises that the flora and fauna continues to exist in a way that the crumbling man-made structure has not

These stanzas do have a sinister feel, although there is no movement. Hughes emphasises the latent of power of pike effectively through this, and is also able to demonstrate his silent, trembling self

Perhaps Hughes is implying that nature/pike will be forever more powerful than man?

Instinct vs Preconceived Notions
Despite the fear and generally negative light Hughes has cast pike, he ultimately suggests that they are perhaps not the heartless beasts he makes them out to be

They are not committing willful violence, but responding to the instinct for survival

This is acceptable for Hughes as it is a natural part of the cycle of life

Humans as Pike
Humans, are also driven by the same instinct: we must eat in order to survive. By fishing, Hughes is automatically placing himself in the position of a top predator

Hughes wants to counter the widespread belief that humans are peaceful creatures when in fact, we are also very dangerous predators indeed

The instinctive pike are compared with humans, to fish for leisure, implying that humans are the true predators and source of violence in the natural world

Therefore, despite the pike's menacing nature, we are left to wonder the pike fears man more than the man fears pike
Comparison with
Horses
Both poems have elements of fear and power. In
Horses
, words like "terrible", "strange", "steaming", "rage", "blackening rain" do indeed conjure a dark atmosphere

However, it can be said that
Horses
conveys more of a sense of awe, rather than fear.

Whereas
Pike
is more a poem that questions the role of man in nature,
Horses
is a more simple poem that is a recollection of Muir's childhood

Although the subject of both poems are creatures that terrify or amaze the poets, they have rather different ways of responding. Muir must "pine/Again for the dread country crystalline", whilst Hughes has his "hair frozen on [his] head"
Essay Questions
Explore the ways in which Hughes presents contrasting views of the pike

Discuss how Hughes is able to highlight the regal nature and menace of the pike

Explore the ways in which Hughes incorporates the idea of man's role in nature in
Pike
Perhaps this power conjures a sense of awe in Hughes

The pike have "grandeur", and are unchallenged as they roam freely through their aquatic territory, resting "over a bed of emerald"

Their regal nature is emphasised further by their outlasting of the monastery, which is "as deep as England"
Contrast with Pied Beauty
Hopkins gives thanks to God for the variety that is found in the world; Hughes presents a less welcoming view of nature, and focuses on only one aspect

Hopkins is almost manic is his musings, highlighted especially by his use of sprung-rhythm. Pike is rather mundane in it's style, rhythm and rhyme scheme, especially since it does not have one. This reflects the lack of joy that Hughes finds in nature

Hopkins implies that man is too insignificant and therefore unable to understand the creations of God "(who knows how?)". Hughes implies that man is the source of evil in the world and can therefore provide a good parallel to Hopkins' view of man
Recordings
For those who are more visual learners, you might like this exhilarating recital of the poem, accompanied by dazzling and vibrant images
Full transcript