For the purpose of this essay I have studied three poems written by Ted Hughes; “Roe Deer”, “The Thought Fox” and “The Horses”. They have a common theme of wild animals and the element of awe for them and their surrounding environment is evident in Hughes’ writing. Hughes tries to look deep into the minds of animals and wants the reader to share in the same experience that he had. He shows this in the “Thought Fox” by using delicate and inspiring language such as, ” delicately as the dark snow” he makes it seem so real that we feel that we were present at the moment he saw the fox.
This is very similar in both “Roe-Deer” and “The Horses” along with the feeling that one of them is in the wrong place at the wrong time, “They had happened into my dimension”. There is always a feeling of unease confirmed by the desolation of their meeting place; “Roe-Deer”-“snow lonely fields”; “The Horses”-“Not a leaf, not a bird” and finally ” The thought fox”-“This midnight moment’s forest”. He always seems to believe that he is the one trespassing into their world, not the other way around.
These occurrences help to distinguish between the normal and the abnormal, so that we too can acquire the same feelings for animals that Ted Hughes does. So helping us to envisage the wonder of the moment. Throughout “The Thought Fox” Hughes seems to be struggling for inspiration for one of his poems, “this blank page where my fingers move”, he then sees something out of the window and begins to describe it in great detail. It ends with a completed poem “the page is printed”. This form of poetry, with its irregular rhyme scheme helps us to imagine this encounter and build up a clear picture in our minds of this uncharacteristic situation.
In “The Horses” we again see the way in which Ted Hughes views nature and all its creations. He feels small and meek in perspective to the huge stallions. He views them as powerful, and some how mystical with their, “stone manes”, he believes them to be a thing of beauty, motionless like a statue. Standing resolute against all the chaos around it. Hughes is trying to show the readers how impressive nature is. He believes that it is something not to be tampered with, and should be left alone.
All three poems have quite irregular rhyme schemes throughout using a considerable amount of half rhymes some don’t even rhyme. This gives the reader a feeling of sparseness, which is reflected in his writings and the way it makes you believe it was written on the spur of the moment. The irregular stanza length shown in both “Roe-Deer” and “The Horses” helps to enhance this feeling. There is one line in both of these poems written as a stanza of its own. In ” Roe-Deer” it is, “The deer had come for me” and in “The Horses” it is, “Of a grey silent world”.
These two single lined stanzas help compliment the others and help to bring about a change in the rhythm therefore they are the climax of the poem. This is the turning point in each poem where Hughes reveals his feelings towards nature, we then gain an insiders view. In “The Horses” this line gives us an insight into the life and world of the horses.. Their world is a world of silence and solitude, but still they are as strong as can be. In “Roe-Deer” the line mentioned shows the intelligence of the deer, almost as if they had lain in wait for him.
Similarly early on in the poem this point is emphasised by, “I could think the deer were waiting for me, To remember the password and sign” Ted Hughes illustrates the intelligence of the deer by using a password, which is something that we can all relate to, which also shows the intent of their actions. He feels that they somehow knew that he would be there at that precise moment and had set up this meeting. He then goes on to say, “The curtain had blown aside for a moment”, showing that for a fraction of a minute he had entered into their world and had an insiders view.
He could now see what it was like to live their kind of life. For the brief few moments that he saw the deer, the fox and the horses, Hughes manages to turn each encounter into a lengthy poem and help us to understand why he feels so passionately about animals and nature. He believes them to be superior to the human race in many ways, their unspoilt beauty and elegance makes him feel small and almost unworthy to be in their presence. Throughout the three poems, Hughes tries to challenge mankind’s view on animals and nature.
He wants to show all of us that animals have as much right to be on this earth as us, maybe even more so. He suggests that in many ways they are more powerful than the human race and are in many cases unspoilt by humans, who are frequently disorientated by nature. They know that they can’t control it and therefore are mentally lost. We cannot perceive what the life of an animal must be like. They are all around us, big or small and Hughes wants us to recognise that point and hopefully show nature and its beauty in an interesting way.
The powerful images of animals portrayed through these three poems make us realise that Hughes has truly experienced these encounters. He writes to enable the reader to be touched by his feelings and share these experiences. He wants us all to share in the same bond and love for animals that he has even if it is just through his poetry. He seems to have learnt through experience not to take animals at face value, and wants us to do the same. Hughes himself knows that we may never truly understand nature and such meetings as these, but through his poetry we can start to appreciate its wonders and how we should be a part of it.