Sunday, March 24, 2019
The Violent Energy of Ted Hughes :: Biography Biographies Essays
The Violent goose egg of Ted Hughes Poetic voice of blood and guts (Welsh 1) said one composition headline announcing the appointment of Ted Hughes as the new Poet Laureate in November of 1984. It was pretty typical of the surprise with which the media greeted this appointment because Ted Hughes, it supposems, is for most people a intemperate poet. Hughes is frequently accused of writing poetry which is unnecessarily rough and red-faced when he is simply being a typically blunt Yorkshireman, describing things as he sees them. For example, his Moortown poems (which began as a journal recording his farming experiences) ar not at all like the traditional romantic chance of nature for which English poets are famous. There is no trace in them of the kind of sentiments expressed in Elizabethan poet, Robert Herricks, lines - Fair daffodils we weep to see you haste a itinerary so soon (Rosengarten 98), or Wordsworths - I wandered unfrequented as a cloud that floats on high oer vales and hills (Rosengarten 234). Poetry, for Hughes, is to do with the world of imagination He calls it a journey into the inner institution (Faas 29), and an exploration of the genuine self (Faas 32). Poetry (he once wrote is one way to unlock the doors of those many mansions inside the head and express something - perhaps not more than, just something - of the crush of information that presses in on us....Something of the deep complexness that makes us precisely the way we are.... Something of the inaudible music that moves us along in our bodies from moment to moment like water in a river... (Faas 82) An excessive scrutiny of the seamy, shocking side of Ted Hughes writing, particularly his animal poems, has characterized much of the critical attention paid to the poet laureate. Many scholars, such as Ben Howard, extract that Hughes has often seemed the celebrant, if not the proponent of violence and destruction (253). This approach to his poetry, however, disregards the imaginat ive depths Hughes discovers by pursuing violence. In his poem Pike (55 - 56), Hughes manipulates our kinesthetic knowingness of violence by guiding us, in carefully constructed stages, into closer pass with the pike. With each of these progressive stages, we are introduced to violence of increasing magnitude and significance. The stages agree a series of degrees the first in stanzas one by dint of four, the sulfur in stanza five through the first two lines of six, the third through stanza seven, and the fourth in stanzas eight through eleven.