Q. Ted Hughes conception of Nature is marked by a recognition ofviolence and aggression that corresponds with the general mood of age.Discuss.Ted Hughes was a poet Laureate of Great Britain. He was in a cusp of time Modern and Postmodern. He was a traditional poet as well as he moved away from traditional modes ofexpression. A newspaper headline in 1984 announced Ted Hughes a “Poetic voice of blood andguts”.In his writings Hughes has experimented with stylistic aspects of modern era like semanticdeviation, dramatic deviation, and condense imagery. He lived in the West Yorkshire which isthe area of untamed nature and area of laborers while Words Worth’s area is refined. Teddiscards the refined mannerism and refined intellectualism. Unlike other poets who have madepeople to find the ways of escapism and live an illusionary life through their poetry, he hasconfined the brutal, cruel and violent nature of his era in his poetry.His poetry is not easily understood like that of his popular predecessors who expressednature as a healer, nurse, and guardian. Hughes’ poetic version was of Pantheism; it is a realitythat reveals god’s reality. Unlike Wordsworth, Hughes highlighted the darker aspects of nature.Wordsworth’s pantheism was of an ideal state; his poetry captures the beautiful aspects of naturebut Hughes celebrates the macabre realities of natural world.Violence and brutal aggression is certainly one of the dominant themes in the poetry of TedHughes. He is fascinated by violence; all kinds of violence—violence in love as well as inhatred, violence in the arena, violence in the jungle, violence in a battle, and violence in theform of murder and sudden death.
The theme of violence and aggression can be located in the animal poems of Hughes. LikePike, depicts the brutality, ferocity and the violence which cannot be separated from the naturalworld. In Pike, it has been told that pike-fish are “killers from the egg” (L-3), they vital instinctof their nature is killing. A pike-fish kills and eat up one of its own tribe if it cannot get anythingelse to satisfy its hunger “And indeed they spare nobody,” (L-22), it really makes no distinctionin appetite. No poet like Hughes has incarcerated the murderousness of Nature with such effectin his poems. M.L. Rosenthal says, “Hughes’s view of Nature is Nazi, not Words Worthian”,Then another poem Bayonet Charge depicts nastiness and violence in the warfare. Theverses like “a green hedge that dazzled with rifle fire” (L-3, 4) and “bullets smacking the bellyout of the air” (L-5) portrays that wars have a darker side to them. War is something gory. Tedhas highlighted the natural fear of soldier in a war. Later in the poem a soldier has beenvisualized as “He plunged past with his bayonet toward the green hedge,” (L-19) and forgetting“king, honour, human dignity, etcetera” (L-20). Hughes unlike other poets demonstrates theunusual and ignored feelings of self preservation of a soldier. Self preservation has been shownas natural instinct to soldier like other humans. Wars have always been penned in the sense ofglorification but Ted has portrayed the other side of picture. In the end of poem soldier’s fearreached at such a climax which leads him to run. In this poem the death has been depicted asheroic as well as tragic; it arises pity, grief in the cover of violence, cruelty and aggression.One more aspect of violence in Ted’s poems is violence as an expression of identity. He hasillustrated violence as a pure expression of spirit, violence as an assertion of identity. In thisconnection, the closing lines of the poem Pike are significant. The pond where the narrator in thispoem fished was “as deep as England” (L-34). This pond assumed pikes “too immense to stir”(L-35), and its immense size, arouse the fear in fisher’s mind. A darkness released by the
darkness of the night seemed to him to be rising slowly towards him. In these lines, the darknessis expressed through the rapacious pike. The narrator’s dream here is a dream of violence. This isnot without a basis because the England people have always been more aggressive and war-lik.Hughes’s use of birds and fish to deal with issues are as complex as the history and use ofpower, authority, and violence. In The Eagle the brutal nature of a hungry eagle has beenportrayed which underlines the reality of Great Britain’s war-like nature. England like Eagleattacked at its prey with cruelty and meanness. In the poem as “His spread fingers measure aheave” (L-7) gave expression of aggressiveness of eagle apparently but hideously it is theportrayal of Britain’s behaviour in World wars.Hughes’ depiction of macabre and horrid realities in his poems is the result of Post-Wardepression and frustration. Ted’s subjective view of nature shows the aspect of alienation in thePost-War World. His use of wild animals shows his own depressed and disturbed nature as hewas blamed by the people for his wife’s death. He uses voracious animals as his subjects. Thesepoems are to remind humans that nature is not always our friend no matter how much we try tohelp it by cutting pollution. Through the use of animal imagery Hughes’ has revealed themalignant nature of humans.