Critical Analysis of “That Morning” | Poem by Ted Hughes

  • January 16, 2022
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Interest in animals compels Ted Hughes to write poems on them. He loves animals and likes to portray their images in his poetry. It is, therefore, he is called the poet of animals. “That Morning” is a clear analysis of animal’s psyche through which Ted Hughes portrays critical theme of violence. In this poem, the poet shares his and his son’s experience of fishing. It is evident from the biography of Ted Hughes that he perfectly knew animal psyche. This poem is one of the two salmon (a species of fish) poems; other one is “The Gulkana”. The poem is from collection of “River”. The poem also shares some attributes of Emily Dickinson’s poetry.

Ted Hughes along with his son Nicholes went for fishing where he decided to write this poem. He could not exclude animals nor could he exclude theme of violence from it. He was interested in animals right from his childhood. He spent most of his time with them in Calder Valley. Animals’ world was his own world. He knew their nature; he wanted to study them. Rarely, any poem of Ted Hughes is found in which he had not talked about animals. Even while explaining the process of writing poetry, he used fox as a symbol. In this poem, the poet shows us the world of fishes. It does not matter whether an animal belongs to sea or dessert, Ted Hughes wants to know about it. This poem elaborates theme of violence through fishes and bears. He has converted his fishing experience into a beautiful poem.

Click to read “That Morning” instead of its critical analysis.

Critical analysis of starting lines of “That Morning” demonstrates that it starts with the description of salmon fishes. The poet has reached near the river. He gazes at the movement of salmons and observes it minutely. Climate description is also there in starting lines of the poem.

Initial lines of the poem are about weather. Salmons have also been introduced to the readers. Illustration of beautiful images increases charm of the poem. The poet gazes at a group of salmons. It seems to him that they are performing some kind of ritual. They are looking incredibly beautiful to him. He feels that salmons are getting some heavenly satisfaction while performing some kind of ritual. Brightness has overwhelmed them and they are shining in the deep water. Ted Hughes has created a wonderful sketch of fishes.

The poet is not alone, who is feeling the sanctity of fishes; his son is also feeling the same. It is, therefore, he uses the word “we” instead of “I” everywhere. Nevertheless, ritual ceremony of the fishes has not been ended yet; with every second the poet and his son can feel increase in holiness of salmons. Besides fishes, poet’s mind is also blessed. Although only salmons are performing a ritual yet the poet is also blessed. His mind has been filled with thoughts. The blessing, which he is feeling, is actually his imagination. After seeing fishes, his mind connects with nature.

“As if we flew slowly, their formations”; this line indicates that the poet is imagining his own world, in which he feels peace, harmony and blessings. There is also a fear in his mind that any wrong thought can end this blessing. “One wrong thought might darken. As if the fallen; World and salmon were over”; these lines reveal that the poet cannot think [to think] anything else. Meaning thereby, he cannot divert his attention towards any other subject otherwise he will lose his peaceful imagination. The line “That had let the world pass away—” shows the superiority of the fishes to everything because the poet feels that these fishes are everlasting. It is highly ironic. At the end, we would witness transient life of salmons.

Salmons are beautifully enjoying their devotional world. They were in marvelous mountains, shaped like a bow, along with some green plants. But suddenly the poet and his son witness a dreadful moment. Two bears came from somewhere, tore the salmons into pieces and ate them. It was the end of their journey.

Critical Analysis of Symbolic Significance of “That Morning” transpires that poem’s start and its end are entirely opposite to each other. Theme of violence is evident in last part of the poem. Entire poem is symbol of life. It depicts reality of life. Ted Hughes wants to say that life goes on in this way. There are many good days in life but suddenly due to an incident we loose everything. It also shows the brutality of strongers over weakers. It is the law of nature: “Destroy the weaker for pleasure; if not for pleasure than for need”. In this case, salmons are weak and bears are strong; therefore they eat salmons for their needs. Life is full of charms and at the same time full of tragedies. A sudden change can take a person from heaven to hell and from hell to heaven. Life is also full of wonders. Every day, many wonders are witnessed by people. Life goes on like this. Poem is very much close to reality. It reveals a truth. The poet presents reality of life. Some people in life are like salmons, who do no harm to others but still some bears eat [hurt] them. Life is mixture of both good and bad.

In short, the poem is beautiful representation of life. It has charm of its own but it is also dreadful. Beauty lies in the eyes of beholder. It depends on the beholder, how he sees them. Similarly, life lies in the mind. If a person is free from worries, he would find peace and harmony while seeing salmons but if he has witnessed the brutality of bears, then his mind sees brutality in everything. Fear will never leave him. Ted Hughes shows two main aspects of life; the good aspect and the bad aspect. “That Morning” is highly symbolic poem and it is about reality of life.

Related Questions:

  • Write Critical Analysis of “That Morning by Ted Hughes”.
  • “That Morning” shows critical analysis of life? Elaborate.
  • “That Morning” is highly symbolic poem of Ted Hughes. Write symbolic critical analysis of “That Morning”.
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