Stylistic Qualities of Hughes' Poetry

Ted Hughes' poetic style is original and he is influenced by Hopkins, Dylan Thomas and Sylvia Plath. His usual tendency is to use tough vocabulary and put words together in an unusual combination.

Ted Hughes (1930-1998)

Consequently, readers are obliged to make a mental effort to get the meaning of the word combinations. But it does not mean that Hughes is incapable of using simple vocabulary or of putting words together in simple combinations. He has written poems in which the vocabulary is absolutely simple too.

The use of alliteration and assonance is a frequent phenomenon in Hughes’ poetry. As Hughes uses the device of alliteration he does not give us only impression that he is deliberately using it for the sake of effect. In his case, the use of alliteration seems not only to be spontaneous but inevitable. The use of repetitiveness, paradox, obscurity and ambiguity makes his poems rich in their stylistic outlook.

Ted Hughes, a British poet of the post war era is very much fond of using animal imagery. For him, animal vitality is different from human beings. He compares the vitality of nature, projecting animal imagery. He shows interest in animals, birds and other natural phenomena. Hughes does not only give a realistic description of animals, but also builds up myths about those animals to enlarge and impart certain status to them. In this regard, he is a myth-maker too. Basically, he is a poet of natural vitality. Nature in its pure form is raw. The celebration of this coarse and rough vitality of nature is all visible in his poetry. Hughes’ view of nature is manifested in the poem Snowdrop collected in the volume of Lupercal. The poem has extreme brevity. The idea expressed in this poem is basic to Hughes’ whole philosophy of nature. Hughes is keenly aware of the nature’s cruelty and of the sufferings which animals and birds have to undergo despite the spirit of endurance nature has endowed them. Hughes’ view of nature is Melvillian rather than Wordsworthian. Hughes projects nature as a malign force.

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Sharma, Kedar N. "Stylistic Qualities of Hughes' Poetry" BachelorandMaster, 13 Oct. 2014,