“Football at Slack” Essay Plan
Question. Choose a poem which describes a positive experience. Describe what happens in the poem, and show how, by the use of poetic techniques, the poet has enhanced your appreciation of the positive aspects of the poem.
What Happens? • Ted Hughes describing a game of football. The game is a celebratory, joyful event set against a bleak, unforgiving landscape in dreadful weather conditions. What are the positive aspects of the poem? • The men’s enjoyment and their enthusiasm for the game. • The men’s sense of exhilaration to be playing in such conditions. • The majesty of Nature (the landscape and weather conditions are harsh but we can still admire the beauty and magnificence of Nature. (even when it is in a bad mood – don’t write this in your essays!) • The men’s refusal to be daunted by the landscape or by the weather: the indomitable spirit of Mankind. (Is the game of football a metaphor for real hardships in life? )
Introduction In your introduction to your essay, it is important that you touch on these ideas. You could just use the words “positive aspects” of the poem but that doesn’t give such a clear sense that you really understand the poem’s theme. Intro 1 “Football at Slack” by Ted Hughes is a poem that makes you appreciate the positive aspects of the poem. “Football at Slack” is about a group of men playing football and the men battling against terrible weather conditions. Hughes uses many techniques to enhance your appreciation of the positive aspects of the poem.
“Football at Slack” by Ted Hughes is a poem that makes you appreciate the positive aspects of the poem. “Football at Slack” is about a group of men playing football and the men battling against terrible weather conditions. Hughes uses many techniques to enhance your appreciation of the positive aspects of the poem. “Football at Slack” is a poem which describes a positive experience. The poem shows the indomitable spirit some men show during a football match. It also shows us the unity that mankind can have towards life. Ted Hughes uses a variety of techniques throughout to convey the positive atmosphere. “Football at Slack” is a poem by Ted Hughes which describes a positive experience. The poem begins with men enjoying a game of football in an open space. As the poem goes on, the men are challenged against the weather. The poem emphasises the high spirits of the men throughout. Ted Hughes’ poem “Football at Slack” describes an exhilarating and life affirming game of football played in the bleakest of conditions. Using a variety of poetic techniques, Hughes celebrates the indomitable spirit of Mankind as well as the awe inspiring beauty of Nature.
Ted Hughes’ poem “Football at Slack” describes an exhilarating and life affirming game of football played in the bleakest of conditions. Using a variety of poetic techniques, Hughes celebrates the indomitable spirit of Mankind as well as the awe inspiring beauty of Nature.
How to do the main bit… Firstly, Ted Hughes introduces the positive themes of both the beauty of Nature and the vitality of the men in the opening stanza. Hughes describes the bleak spectacle of the landscape where the men are playing football: “Between plunging valleys, on the bareback of hill” Hughes’ word choice of “plunging” suggest the dramatic outline of the hills against the sky and suggest the movement of horses as they move up and down. This connection with horses is continued in the phrase “bareback of hill”. This suggests the shape of a horse’s back and helps us to imagine the shape of the hills against the sky. This powerful opening line introduces the idea of the power of Nature and, although the reader can imagine the footballers as being very small compared to the dramatic skyline, it also celebrates the beauty and majesty of Nature. The poet not only celebrates the beauty of Nature in his opening stanza, he also introduces the idea of the resilience of human nature. He describes the men playing football as been in “blunting colours”, implying that their colourful football strips are fading as the weather worsens. However, this does not deter them from enjoying their football match. Hughes writes that the men: “bounced and their blown ball bounced” The repetition of the word “bounce” and the hard alliteration of the “b” sound makes us think of the sound of a ball makes as it is repeatedly bounced on the ground. Like the ball, the men are full of energy and there is no suggestion of the men stopping their game. Just as Hughes has introduced the positive theme of the majesty of Nature in his opening stanza, he has also asked us to consider the energy and resilience of human nature, themes he will go on to develop in the rest of the poem.
Moreover, Hughes continues to celebrate the resilience of human nature as the poem continues. In Stanza two, he develops the idea of the men’s energy and their enjoyment of their game: “The blown ball jumped, and the merry-coloured men Spouted like water to head it” The energy of the ball is again suggested by the alliteration of the “b” sound. The personification of the ball as having “jumped” makes us think that the ball is working with the wind to tease the men, making it harder to play the game. However, the men are still just as enthusiastic about their game; their high spirits are reflected in Hughes’ description of “merry coloured men”. Hughes also uses a simile to convey the energy of the players: “They spouted like water to head it. ” The men jumping up together to head the ball is compared to water spurting from a tap or a main. Just as the water will move forcefully and quickly due to the pressure, so the men are moving with determination and speed as they are determined to head the ball. This simile is an excellent technique in conveying the vitality of the men and demonstrating that their enjoyment of their game of football is undiminished by the wind and the worsening weather. In Stanza Two, Hughes has reinforced the positive message of the resilience of human nature.
Your turn… • You should now work your way through the rest of the poem, ensuring that you continue to discuss all the positive aspects of the poem. • Stanza three continues theme of the resilience of the men. • Stanza Four shows how Nature tries to dampen the men’s spirits by worsening the weather. This shows the power and majesty of Nature, even when it is what humans consider as “bad” weather” • Stanza five shows that the men are resilient and are unaffected by the weather. • Stanza 6 reinforces that the weather is affecting the darkening landscape but, still, the men’s enthusiasm is undimmed. • Stanza Seven – the Sun, the most powerful element of nature, shows admiration for the men as the sun lifts the blanket of cloud to look at them; reinforces the resilience of human nature - even the elements have respect for them.