Hughes Poems

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Explore the different perceptions of the creatures in the poems "Ghost Crabs" and "Horses"

Hughes' perception of each of the creatures in his poems is one of awe. However, this awe is focused in different directions in each of the poems. In "Horses" Hughes feels an unprecedented respect towards the creatures; yet in "Ghost crabs" he feels a fear toward the crabs, which makes him feel in awe at their presence.

Hughes feels the "Giant crabs" are the dominant power on Earth. Although they are only ghosts, Hughes describes them as being glistening, powerful creatures, "packed trench[es] of helmets" as if they are warriors, emerging triumphant from the sea as a "bristling surge." The power emanated by these creatures is immense, and this inspires Hughes, yet at the same time he is fearful. Hughes' fear stems from the fact that these creatures can kill with such casual indifference and brutality. "They stalk…they fasten…they mount…they tear each other to pieces."

However, in "Horses" the mood is much more calming, and Hughes feels a type of reverence towards the horses. He feels that they are far more spiritual, and they represent a stability, which at the time of writing the poem, he may have felt he lacked in his life. The horses are "grey silent fragments of a grey silent world" and show the reader that Hughes is amazed at them, as they stand "Megalith still" despite the changing of the world around them.

Contrary to "Horses," "Ghost Crabs" does not represent stability, it represents change, a change over which we have no control. Hughes sees the crabs as a menace, something to be feared, yet something that wields far more power than we could ever grasp. "They are God's only toys." This is why Hughes feels such trepidation towards the crabs. He feels insecure about the fact that they stalk round after he is in bed, even though he can't see them. Despite this fact, he knows that they are there, and is perturbed that there is something beyond his own...
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