The Jaguar

Topics: Poetry, Culling, T. S. Eliot Prize Pages: 5 (1895 words) Published: February 19, 2013
Poetry Reading Assignment:

By referring to The Early Purges by Seamus Heaney and The Jaguar by Ted Hughes, show how well you feel the poet has described his experiences. Refer to the ways in which he brought these experiences to life for you and explain what made them memorable.

In The Early Purges by Seamus Heaney, the poet is remembering a childhood experience. It deals with the necessary killing of farmyard pests, telling us why they must be killed in order to run an effective farm. It gives us an insight into the ways of farmyard life and the manner in which pests are dealt with. It explores the harsh reality of life; the knowledge and understanding that comes with age and experience that certain things must happen in life that we may find difficult or impossible. Young Heaney was deeply affected by what he saw, however upon reflection he became insensate and unmoved by the experience saying, 'It makes sense.' In The Jaguar by Ted Hughes, the poet describes a visit to the zoo, the inferiority and disappointment of many animals, and then the superior and spectacular jaguar that teaches us that if we are strong enough within ourselves we will never be trapped or imprisoned. It describes a man upon a visit to the zoo, expressing his letdown at the lackadaisical scene of the various encaged animals. He is enthralled by the Jaguar who seems extramurally beyond the confines of the zoo, and all who witness are captivated by the Jaguar's clearly apparent liberation. Both poets have learned a lesson from animals; in Heaney's case he realised that we have to face difficult decisions in life, and that some day our lives will end also. On the other hand Hughes realised that our emotional strength is very important and plays a big part in our whole way of life and attitudes toward life. The jaguar taught us that we have to stay strong within, in order to cope with the troubles we may face in life.

The Early Purges deals with farm life, how pests must be culled to run an efficient farm. The slaughter of these young kittens by an experienced farmer was observed by an innocent six year old boy who found the experience very traumatic. He was haunted thereafter each time he saw Dan Taggert slaughter another animal. However, as the poem draws to a close, he has a different attitude about the killing of farmyard pests and realises that it makes sense. The Jaguar is a man's description of a visit to the zoo and his observation of all the animals. It clearly depicts his evident disappointment at the lethargy and torpor of the encaged animals, and the stark contrast of his fascination and marvel at the jaguar's enthusiasm and attitude.

The Early Purges explores the harsh reality of life. It gives us the knowledge and the understanding that comes with age and experience that teaches us that there are certain things that must happen in life whether we like it or not, and that we have to gain in maturity and take these problems and try to make sense and understand them, in order to overcome and ultimately accept them. In comparison, The Jaguar teaches us that if we are mentally strong enough within we will never be trapped or imprisoned. The jaguar is put in a situation that many other animals would find very distressing and they would give up hope. This is why the other animals remained very lethargic and motionless, as opposed to the jaguar who seemed full of enthusiasm and in his mind, he was free.

There are various poetic techniques used throughout the poems,to enhance the overall reading experience. In the Early Purges, enjambment is quite commonly used in this poem. This technique helps the poet change the pace of the poem, which reflects his changing attitudes towards the cruelty of life at the farm. This is used by the poet to help tie in the turning point of the poem and mirrors his emotions. The change of pace is also shown through listing where the poet lists many adjectives like...
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