- Slides: 16
View of a Pig Ted Hughes
Ted Hughes q After being appointed the Poet Laureate in 1984, one newspaper dubbed him as the “poetic voice of blood and guts. " q Hughes was frequently accused of writing poetry which was unnecessarily rough and violent when he is simply being a typically blunt Yorkshire man, describing things as he saw them. q His poems are not like the traditional romantic view of nature for which many English poets are famous. q Poetry, for him, had to do with the world of imagination— a world he described as “a journey into the inner universe” and “an exploration of the genuine self. ” q Hughes believed that poetry is a magical and powerful way of reaching our feelings and emotions—our subconscious, natural energies that have been repressed by an emphasis on the scientific approach to life and teaching.
Death is a key theme. Note that the word “dead” is repeated in most stanzas. Simile establishes animal’s vast size. The pig lay on a barrow dead. It weighed, they said, as much as three men. Its eyes closed, pink white eyelashes. Sibilance emphasizes scene of death. Its trotters stuck straight out. Such weight and thick pink bulk Set in death seemed not just dead. It was less than lifeless, further off. It was like a sack of wheat. Simile reflects pig’s weight I thumped it without feeling remorse. One feels guilty insulting the dead, Walking on graves. But this pig Did not seem able to accuse. Why does the speaker strike the pig? Is it because the pig lack’s humanity? How does this affect the tone of the poem?
How can the pig be “too dead”? It was too dead. Just so much A poundage of lard and pork. Its last dignity had entirely gone. It was not a figure of fun. Is the pig’s dignity in its capacity to feed someone? Too dead now to pity. To remember its life, din, stronghold Of earthly pleasure as it had been, Seemed a false effort, and off the point. Why was the pig’s satisfaction false? Too deadly factual. Its weight Oppressed me—how could it be moved? Frustration at having to dispense with the carcass And the trouble of cutting it up! The gash in its throat was shocking, but not pathetic. First indication of cause of death.
Recalls past event. The experience seems to shrouded in negativity. Did this experience influence speaker’s current perception of pigs? Once I ran at a fair in the noise To catch a greased piglet That was faster and nimbler than a cat, Its squeal was the rending of metal. Metaphor emphasizes disturbing sound Simile references purpose of Pigs must have hot blood, they feel like ovens. pig’s death or their set future. Their bite is worse than a horse’s— Consider what the pig’s eating habits reveal. They chop a half-moon clean out. They eat cinders, dead cats. Distinctions and admirations such As this one was long finished with. I stared at it a long time. They were going to scald it, Scald it and scour it like a doorstep. Why the impersonal pronoun? Who is “They”? What is the speaker’s attitude toward “them”? Consider this simile. Is it effective? Why?
View of a Pig reiterates the speaker’s disappointment. The pig is “less than lifeless, ” “too deadly factual. ” The poet wants his emotions provoked but thumps the pig “without feeling remorse” and finds it “too dead now to pity. ” The poem is an exercise in frustration – the speaker wants to remember the pig alive, but it “is not a figure of fun. ” No matter how hard he “stares, ” he cannot provoke a reaction.
Analysis Place words and phrases in order by ranking them according to words or phrases you often associate with pigs.
Two Views of Pigs Romanticized (Anthropomorphism) Food
Diction q. What does the poet’s attitude seem to be towards the dead pig? q. What words does he use to describe it? q. What words does he use to describe his feelings about it? Notice that the pig is referred to as “it, ” not “he or she. ” q. What words would you use to describe the poet’s attitude toward the dead pig?
Imagery q. What repeated sounds appear in the poem? q. What kind of adjectives does the poet use to describe the pig? q. What use of simile and/or metaphor is made in stanzas 1 – 6? q. What use of simile and metaphor is made in stanzas 7 – 9? q. Why does the use of figurative language increase as the poem progresses?
Pattern What use of rhyme does Hughes make? Is there a regular meter running throughout the poem?
Pattern • How does Hughes use rhyme? • Is there a regular meter used throughout the poem? • What do you notice about the sentence structure within the stanzas? • Do your observations fit with your interpretation of the poet’s attitudes? • What effect does the stanza’s structure have?
Consider the following: • There is no regular rhyme. • There is no regular meter. • Many lines are end-stopped. • Each stanza is end-stopped. • Each stanza seems to sit on the page, almost unconnected to anything else – just four bare lines about the dead pig.
Theme • Write down words which particularly struck you. • Do any of these words mirror those we’ve already discussed? • Share the words with your group and piece together the meaning of the poem; then, share your responses with the class. • Finally, write one theme of the poem.
Reaction q. What do you think about this poem and the poet’s portrayal of the pig? q. Are you moved by the plight of the pig? How does the poet try to manipulate your feelings? q. Is this poem about a pig or about a poet’s feelings toward animals?
2015 Writing Prompt Comment closely on ways in which “View of a Pig” presents the dead animal.