Essay on "Pike" by Ted Hughes

Topics: Poetry, Meter, Poetic form Pages: 2 (757 words) Published: January 17, 2014
Question: How does the poet convey intense feelings about the fish?

Essay:

The poem "Pike" describes the fish of the same name and the poet's feelings about them, fishing and the brutality of some little ones he had as pets, which later grew out of control, "indeed they spare nobody". The poem seems to be about nature, "ponds" and "lily pads", but this is not a truly pastoral poem as it is not only about the beauty and innocence of nature; the tone is dark, "deep as England" and even terrifying, "the hair frozen on my head for what might move".

The structure of the poem seems regular; each verse has four lines. However, the line length, though at first it looks regular, is in fact irregular, ranging from five syllables to thirteen syllables. This difference adds to the uneasy tone of the poem, creating an aural sensation of something hiding within the longer lines, mirroring the way in which the "pike" lurks under the water´s surface, "logged on last year´s black leaves, watching upwards. The first two stanzas finish with a full stop, which creates the sensation of control control. This suggests that the poet has control of the dangerous fish, "killers from the egg", at this stage, when the "pike" he describes are "three inches long, perfect". However, by the fifth stanza, when the poet retells his anecdote about the "pike" "we kept behind glass", at first there are "three", then "suddenly there were two" and "finally one", (as it has eaten the others), and this ruthless, cannibal fish, unlike any traditional pet, moves directly into the next stanza, "with a sag belly and the grin it was born with". In this next stanza, the sixth, the poet warns the reader that the "pike" "spare nobody". The fish´s brutality is echoed by the poem´s form at this point - the vicious "pike" has dominated the fish tank and now dominates the poem, refusing to follow the previous, neat form and escapes from one stanza to the next. Later in the poem the stanzas continue to run...
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