Power and Poetry- Ted Hughes

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Nina Clarke
Year 12 English: Vision Splendid
The power of war endures, long after the war has ended.

A photograph of a group of young men, all with their lives ahead of them. Six months later, all are dead.

(PP Slide #1 – war image)

Good morning all and welcome to this year’s conference on Power and Poetry. This morning I will be presenting to you the works of a renowned poet who captivated my attention with his beautifully compelling pieces, particularly in recognition of World War I.

(PP #2 – Ted Hughes)

Ted Hughes was an English Poet, famously known for his marriage to fellow poet Sylvia Plath. His poems remained as complex and intricate as his tangled personal life. The work of Ted Hughes belongs to the post-modern period, as he was born in 1930 and died in 1998. Arguably one of the greatest poets of his generation, Hughes’ poems cover a broad range of themes and subject matter revolving around nature, human existence, war and death.

Today, I will demonstrate how Hughes’ powerful imagery, poetic devices, and languages structures contribute to the notion that the power of war remains excruciatingly vivid, long after the war itself has ended. I will also examine how cultural and personal contexts shaped his work and therefore his commentary on the power of war.

I have selected two of Hughes’ recognised poems “Six Young Men”, and “For the Duration”, which each offer insight to the effects of war although still carry their own subtle differences.

In Six Young Men, the central concern of this poem is the futility of war, and the themes of death, non-existence and memories. At the beginning of the poem the speaker has come across a photograph of six young men who died in the Great War.

Initially, the poem seems like a cheerful recollection of memories revealed in a photograph,

(PP #3 - quote)

“Their shoes shine, one imparts an intimate smile,
Once chews a grass, one lowers his eyes, bashful,
Once is ridiculous with cocky...
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